HAAG welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality. This submission is based on our experience delivering housing and related support services to older women, research and lived experiences of older women experiencing housing stress or homelessness in Australia. We especially acknowledge the contributions to this submission made by members of HAAG’s advisory groups including National Alliance for Seniors Housing (NASH), Retirement Accommodation Action Group (RAAG), LGBTQIA+ reference group, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) reference group and NSW Lived Experience Advocacy Group (LEAG).
• Ensure ongoing consultation with older women, especially those with lived experience of homelessness or being at risk of homelessness and severe poverty, from diverse backgrounds, geographic areas and household settings to better understand their needs.
• Embed voices of older women throughout the life span of the Strategy and mechanisms to ensure they are involved in design, development and implementation of the Strategy.
Housing and Homelessness
• Fund the construction of 25,000 public, community and affordable homes per year across the country as a matter of priority, including specific increased allocations of homes for older women.
• Commit to a target to increase the net stock of social and affordable housing to 10% of all residential dwellings by 2050 in partnership with State and Territory governments.
• Fund the delivery of specialist housing information and support services for older people with a special focus on older women based HAAG’s Home at Last service model, in every State and Territory.
• Strengthen rental protections and harmonise State and Territory legislation to ensure equitable rental protections across the country.
• Address specific barriers women with disability, including older women experience including access to affordable, safe and accessible, housing that adhere to universal housing design principles.
• Identify solutions for the older women who are considered the ‘missing middle’ including investment in Independent Living Units with proportion of them ringfenced for older women.
Addressing economic disadvantage
• Raise income support payments like JobSeeker and index all working-age payments twice per year in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI) and wages to lift women off poverty line.
• Develop a national agenda to recognise and rectify the historic superannuation gap that lead to older women experiencing poverty in retirement.
Health and wellbeing
• Address the inherent discrimination in health settings including health costs and increasing targeted health services to older women to ensure they access health services before a health crisis.
• Provide ongoing training to medical professionals in various health settings to better understand the needs of older women, particularly gender diverse older people without prejudice or discrimination.
Elder abuse and domestic and family violence
• Focus on elder abuse and related implications on older women as a separate area of focus with references to recommendations from other parallel frameworks such as The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.