Shellharbour council to tackle housing 'tragedy' facing older women

Jano Caro will facilitate the event. Photo by Christopher Patterson.
Jano Caro will facilitate the event. Photo by Christopher Patterson.

Social commentator Jane Caro will join with Shellharbour City Council on Tuesday to tackle the growing housing affordability crisis facing older women. 

Ms Caro – a writer and commentator who regularly appears on Q&A, The Drum and Sunrise – will facilitate a forum at the Shellharbour Club, aimed at single women over 50 in Shellharbour who have concerns about their housing future.

The council secured a government grant to hold the Older Women’s Housing Security Forum, which will examine housing options in older age and encourage women to take control of their financial future.

Forum participants will workshop housing options, including alternatives to living alone and struggling to keep up high rental payments or bills. 

Ms Caro recently became involved in housing affordability debates and is passionate about housing and financial issues affecting women. 

Writing for the ABC over the weekend, she noted women were the fastest-growing group of homeless people.

She said it was a tragedy that the lack of housing security facing many older single women was the “reward” they got for putting other people first and themselves last for most of their lives.

“Unless we wish to see a lot more senior women out on the streets, then we must act,” Ms Caro said.

Unless we wish to see a lot more senior women out on the streets, then we must act.

Jane Caro

Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said older single women would be hit hard in the next few years as housing becomes less affordable.

“Charities and welfare groups report a growing number of older women are seeking housing support, with many worried that any changes introduced to improve housing affordability and security might not come soon enough,” she said.

She said older women were known to be more vulnerable than men to housing stress because they generally earned lower incomes, were more likely to work in part-time roles, and retired with less superannuation.

“In a lot of cases, women also take more time off work to care for children and ageing parents, can suffer greater financial strain after divorce and are more susceptible than men to domestic violence,” Cr Saliba said.