Around one in six people aged 55 and over are homeless in Australia. Over the past three censuses, the number of older Australians who are homeless has steadily increased.
Older women were found to be the fastest growing group of homeless people between 2011 and 2016. Currently, 240,000 older women over 55s are at risk of homelessness in Australia.
The 2016 census, carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, revealed that older people made up 16% of the total number of homeless people.
What is roaming?
Although you can consider someone homeless if they appear to be living on the streets, the definition of homelessness is a bit broader.
People experiencing homelessness are considered to be anyone with an unstable or inadequate housing situation. For example, if you lived in a dilapidated house or had no fixed address, you would be considered homeless in Australia.
You are also considered homeless if you do not have housing alternatives that suit your lifestyle, for example if you couch surf, live in a car, or live in a caravan with no rental property. long term.
What are the causes of homelessness among the elderly?
There are many contributors to homelessness in Australia, however, national charity Mission Australia says there are four common factors that lead to older people not having a stable housing situation.
Financial instability – Probably the most common reason for homelessness is financial instability – which can lead to the loss of regular housing. Many seniors are already struggling financially with recent inflation likely to impact retirees and retirees. Older women are also more likely to be short of money due to a reduced retirement pension (compared to men who have earned more money over their lifetime), part-time work and discrimination based on age.
Elder Abuse – A form of domestic and family violence, elder abuse is a significant cause of homelessness in the country for older people. Elder abuse can appear in many forms, including financial, physical, emotional, sexual, or social abuse, or neglect. If people find themselves in a dangerous situation, they may flee their homes for their safety and find themselves without stable housing.
Disability or illness – A sudden disability or illness can lead to an increased risk of housing insecurity and homelessness. Unexpected disability and illness can lead to equipment or drug costs to manage the illness, which can also lead to financial instability. In addition, a sudden disability or illness can impact your ability to work and earn income to pay for housing.
Marriage or family breakdowns – Conflicts or breakdowns in family relationships or marriages can be an important factor in homelessness. If you suddenly break up your marriage or have a falling out with your family, you may find yourself homeless or homeless, or living in unstable housing. It can also have a financial impact on you and make it difficult to find a new place to live.
Who can help?
The federal government has put in place a number of initiatives to ensure that seniors are protected and are not left without a home or a place to live.
Eligible people include:
- People aged 50 or over and aging prematurely
- Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders aged 45 and over
- low income people
This person must be homeless or at risk of homelessness, to access elder care services sooner, which will help them find housing and get help.
This elderly care is free to you and will be fully covered by the Australian Government.
If you need aged care services, such as a nursing home, the government will help you find suitable placement in a facility, including possibly transferring you to a facility that specializes in homeless care.
If you are still relatively mobile and independent – if you don’t need full-time care – but need stable accommodation, there are services available through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) .
The CHSP can put you in touch with safe and stable housing providers for people who have difficulty finding housing or who have precarious housing.
Once your housing is more stable, the government and your new provider will help connect you with services that will help you at home or in your community.
You can find out more about the My Elder Care Website or call 1800 200 422.
If you are on very low income, you may be able to access housing assistance through your State or Territory public housing authority.
In social housing, you will probably have to pay rent at a reduced rate and there are other rules and regulations that you must follow to continue living there.
In addition, each State and Territory has individual Charity Services which provide support, housing and information services to homeless people. If you need help or services, contact your local homeless service.
Other useful services for each State and Territory can be found on the Homelessness in Australia website.
Engaging with these services can help you begin to rebuild your life and find suitable housing.