Lord Mayor’s Report on Women and Poverty
7 March 2016 at 9:33 am
A new Not for Profit report has revealed that three in 10 women aged over 60 live in permanent income poverty compared to just 27 per cent of single older men.
The report commissioned by Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation explores the key risk factors that contribute to the feminisation of poverty and disadvantage especially in terms of employment.
The research, called Time of Our Lives? was conducted by Adjunct Associate Professor Dr Susan Feldman and Dr Harriet Radermacher from Monash University and examined how inequitable circumstances affect women’s capacity for employment, economic and social participation.
The report identified the risk factors and triggers that lead to long-term disadvantage for women as they grow older and outlined strategies and programs developed within the broader community to improve economic and social opportunities for older women and where more work was needed.
“In Australia there are 1.6 million women aged over 65 and approximately three in 10 (34 per cent) women aged over 60 live in permanent income poverty, compared to 27 per cent of single older men and 24 per cent of couples,” the report said.
“A complex mix of circumstances including the casualisation of the workforce, the superannuation system, and family violence serve to discriminate against women.
“These particular elements when combined with unexpected events such as the loss of employment, illness and injury, family breakdown and crisis related to divorce and widowhood, can threaten access to secure, affordable housing. In combination these factors present older women with serious challenges in both the short and longer term.”
Chief Executive Officer of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Catherine Brown said retirement should be “the time of our lives”, but many older women find themselves vulnerable to financial stress or struggling to maintain housing despite their vital role in economic and community life.
“This unique and powerful report gives a voice to the more than half a million older Australian women living in long-term income poverty,” Brown said.
“The report documents positive strategies and programs developed within the broader community to improve economic and social opportunities for older women and highlights areas where more work is required.
“Too many older women are homeless or live in permanent poverty. Our report shows that there are a lack of good, long-term models in relation to housing and finance to address the problem. Having identified the problems, more work is needed to develop viable solutions. However, as one of the research participants noted, what is clear is that a man is a not a financial plan for the future.”