QVWC Primer: how homelessness is a feminist issue

Recent figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that the average person experiencing homelessness is a woman aged 25-34, often with a child in tow. During the 2016-2017 period 60% of people seeking support from homeless service providers were women – with Victorian women at the top.

Homelessness is a feminist issue for the high number of women who need support but there are additional factors that make it an urgent crisis that requires intervention.

The major reason women face homelessness is from leaving domestic violence situations. 40% of those surveyed –mostly women – reported that they and their children found potential homelessness was a safer option that remaining with their partner or family.

This is further compounded by ongoing cuts to government services to help women and their children escaping violence. Often, an increase in public demand can act the same as a cut with many funded services unable to help and protect women and their children.

While many of the women surveyed were able to access some form of housing, the huge spike in housing affordability (rental as well as mortgage-based) makes homelessness an ongoing, ever-present threat looming over their heads.

Their options are thin on the ground – moving to regional locations may appeal for the lower housing costs, but 60% of people sleeping rough live outside city centres. Those sleeping rough are cut off from reduced or non-existent homelessness services.

What are some potential solutions?

  • Balancing housing affordability to have a greater emphasis on accessibility rather than extreme profit
  • Increase amount of social housing
  • Increase funding to homelessness services
  • Increase funding and services to help women and their children escape domestic violence
  • Employment options that are flexible for mothers and allow them to maintain economic independence…without the gender pay gap.
  • Reintroduction of the single parent pension and extending the age limit
  • And, according to Dr Petra Bueskens, introducing a universal basic wage which will give women the finance and protection they need to find safe housing and food for them and their children.

 

Below is a reading list to find out more:

 

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