Ticket sales closing soon for IRT’s fundraising masquerade Neverland Ball

Michael Clancy, 72, has been residing in IRT's Diment Towers Retirement community in Wollongong for the past few months. Picture: Adam McLean
Michael Clancy, 72, has been residing in IRT's Diment Towers Retirement community in Wollongong for the past few months. Picture: Adam McLean

An elderly Wollongong man who was at risk of homelessness believes more needs to be done to help older people get back into the workforce. 

Michael Clancy, 72, has been residing in IRT's Diment Towers Retirement community in Wollongong for the past few months. 

Prior to that he was living in a boarding house in Port Kembla for about six months. 

“I used to live on the Gold Coast, and I went across to England 18 months ago to help look after my mother, who was suffering from dementia,” he said.

“Because I was over there my pension stopped… I was living off my money and I came back to Australia when my money ran out. I basically came back to Australia penniless. I wasn’t homeless, but I was certainly transient.”

Read more: Homeless Wollongong man Glenn Lillico living in a tent on City Beach

After returning from overseas he lived with his son in Jannali, then moved into a boarding house in Thirroul. 

“But then they changed their configuration to be a backpackers’ hostel… It wasn’t unpleasant, but I obviously didn’t fit in with the new demographic,” he said. 

“When I was living in the boarding house in Port Kembla, you've always got people under your feet. 

“There’s a lot of problems there – alcohol, abuse, some women are there because of domestic violence.”

Mr Clancy has a PhD in physics, and has worked as a foreign affairs diplomat and a journalist. 

“I was doing very well on the Gold Coast, I was really busy with work,” he said.

“But down here it’s very difficult to get traction. 

“Within the workforce there still seems to be discrimination against older people, but people with a lifetime of experience have got a lot to share. I think a lot could be done to upskill people; not only young people, but older people, and get them more readily accepted into the workforce.”

He was introduced to IRT, who helped him secure his current accommodation. He now works as an editor and copywriter. 

Mr Clancy said that some may find it unusual that someone with his level of education and experience could find themselves in such a predicament.

However, he said it reinforced that “there's a whole spectrum of people out there that are in trouble”.

IRT’s fundraising masquerade Neverland Ball is on at UOW’s University Hall on September 1. Ticket sales close on Monday (August 21). Visit www.irtfoundation.org.au/neverland