More home­less women than men

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - PENINSULA SNAPSHOT -

WOMEN in Aus­tralia ex­pe­ri­ence home­less­ness at more than dou­ble the rate of women in the UK, ac­cord­ing to St Vin­cent de Paul So­ci­ety WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Fitz­patrick.

The Bel­mont-based or­gan­i­sa­tion launched the 2016 win­ter ap­peal this month, which urges peo­ple to ‘re­think home­less­ness’.

Mr Fitz­patrick said the home­less­ness in women statis­tics was shock­ing and Vin­nies was work­ing hard to meet de­mand from women and chil­dren for sup­port and ser­vices to pre­vent or ad­dress home­less­ness.

“It is dev­as­tat­ing that 59 per cent of Aus­tralians seek­ing help from home­less­ness ser­vices are women,” he said.

“What is even more chill­ing is the fact that the fastest growing de­mo­graphic ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness is women over 55.

“This to­tally dis­pels the myth that home­less­ness only af­fects younger men.”

Mr Fitz­patrick said he wanted peo­ple to think how they would feel if their grand­mother, mother or sis­ter was home­less.

“We are hear­ing more and more sto­ries from women over 50 who, af­ter many years of loyal ser­vice, are made re­dun­dant or have faced the break­down of the fam­ily unit and can no longer af­ford to pay high hous­ing costs,” he said.

“These women are sud­denly plunged into cir­cum­stances they thought were unimag­in­able; un­able to find work or a home, they are forced to live off their life sav­ings un­til they run dry.”

Fe­males make up 59 per cent of home­less­ness ser­vices clients, with 36 per cent of these women af­fected by do­mes­tic or fam­ily vi­o­lence.

In the 2014-15 fi­nan­cial year, St Vin­cent de Paul as­sisted 40,000 peo­ple and provided $3 mil­lion worth of ma­te­rial as­sis­tance.

“As a re­sult of the down­turn in the economy, un­for­tu­nately this year Vin­nies has seen de­mand ex­ceed what we have ex­pected by nearly 15 per cent,” Mr Fitz­patrick said.

“It is heart­break­ing that the num­bers we serve are in­creas­ing ev­ery year and that is why we rely on the gen­eros­ity of the com­mu­nity.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.