Publications

Older women facing homelessness in Australia: from awareness to ACTION

405,000 women aged 45 and over are at risk of homelessness in Australia. This is a national issue that is affecting women across the country in metropolitan, regional and rural settings. Urgent policy reform is required by the Federal Government Multiple changes are required to our housing, retirement, and social services and income support systems to meaningfully address this issue. If we act now, we can reduce future social and economic costs and avoid placing additional pressure on already stretched homelessness and crisis response services.

Read our 2021 Policy snapshot here

The Federal Government must Incorporate Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, fund targeted measures to increase affordable housing stock earmarked for older people, and incrementally remove Capital Gains Tax and Negative Gearing to create an equitable housing market.

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We have grave concerns about the directions outlined in this discussion paper for the future of public housing, and the potential impact on potential and current social housing tenants. The implication that the private sector or non-government sector are better at managing housing, more efficient or innovative does not align with the experiences in other jurisdictions, yet the paper is peppered with these value assumptions.

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We support the stated aim to “provide advice on harmonising resident rights under public and community housing and options to ensure effective complaints management” however, we are concerned that the directions in the consultation paper appear to erode tenant rights, by using current community housing as the benchmark, rather than public housing. We support strengthened tenancy protections for older tenants in community housing, rather than diminishing of protections for older tenants in public housing.

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Our submission calls on the NSW Government to  fund a specialist older person’s housing information and support service, lower the priority age for social housing eligibilityand build  5,000 social and affordable homes per year for 10 years, to address the older peoples housing crisis.

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The inadequacy of social security payments can have significant negative physical and mental health impacts on people and forces them to rely on community services that provide mental health, housing and homelessness, and other similar services. Increasing these payments would result in people being able to manage their expenses and, as a result, alleviate pressure on community services that are already struggling to meet the community needs.

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Across sectors, much of the legislation and policies that are meant to monitor or regulate the services provided to older people living in retirement housing options do not offer clear or adequate protections or enforcements. Given this, HAAG is in support of the Panel’s vision to provide consumers of Embedded (electricity) Networks equal protections, market access and treatment to on-market customers.

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We are encouraged to see the government’s interest in better understanding and addressing the economic inequalities that women experience. However, it is disappointing to note that focus of this inquiry on economic equity for women fails to include equal access to housing as a core issue, even though safe, affordable and adequate housing underpins all other aspects of life, in particular women’s economic independence and security.

PDF icon Read our submission to the inquiry here

Older women are a fast-growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness, as found by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into homelessness, however the unique housing needs of older people are barely acknowledged in this consultation paper, or other related policy documents including the 10 Year Strategy. HAAG’s responses to the consultation questions reflect the needs of this vulnerable and largely silenced cohort.

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The options set out in this paper show a serious lack of understanding of the issues raised by residents and other stakeholder about retirement village residencies. Retirement villages are too often unfair and exploitative. The Options Paper proceeds as if the problems were only that residents mistakenly perceived villages to be unfair and exploitative, or as if more information would resolve resident concerns. This is not the case. Again and again, the options paper proposes more information rather than increased protections for residents. This is a persistent failure of the options paper, and if the government proceeds on this basis the reform process will fail current and future retirement village residents.

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The current Retirement Villages Act Review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the regulatory framework for retirement villages in Victoria. We have the chance to future-proof this legislation, and lead the nation in terms of retirement village regulation, which will enhance resident confidence in the sector.

We see the Options Paper as a non-definitive list of ways we can improve retirement village regulation in Victoria. We have set out our shared vision and recommendations for the review in this joint submission with the Consumer Action Law Centre, Council on the The Ageing Victoria, and Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria.

PDF icon Read our joint submission here

Our submission covers all areas of HAAGs work in relation to the Victorian Governments 10 year affordable housing strategy and 'Big Housing Build'.
We recommend that the Government must take steps to produce more housing that is suitable for and available to older people at risk of homelessness. This could mean reinvestment in the Independent Living Unit (ILU) sector, changes to social housing eligibility, further increases in housing stock, targeted shared equity initiatives and/or support to scale pilot projects.

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Our CALD working group made this submission to highlight what older CALD communities need from the State Government's 10 year housing strategy.

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The Ageing on the Edge New South Wales Forum is calling on the NSW Government to deliver 5,000 additional social housing dwellings, improve access of older people to appropriate social and affordable housing, establish a state-wide housing information and support service for older people, increase security of tenure for renters, extend the eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic and expand rent support to impacted tenants.

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Consumer Action, WEstjustice, VALS, FCVic, BCLS, HRCLS and HAAG consider it beyond dispute that telecommunications services, including internet services and mobile phones, are necessary for social inclusion and daily participation in essential activities. The ongoing COVID-19 emergency and associated social distancing, border closures, office and school closures, and quarantine requirements have made this painfully obvious. Despite telecommunications being an essential service, they are not regulated as such.

Read our Joint Submission to the Consumer Safeguards Review

26.5% of the people who access our Home at Last Service to avoid becoming homeless, do so because their housing is inappropriate inadequate. Universal design means that older people can age in place, regardless of where they live. The ageing in place concept encourages older people to stay in their own homes, in order to promote health, well-being and independence.

Our submission calls on the Australian Building Codes Board to implement minimum standards for building design so older people can age-in-place.

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Fiona York provided evidence outlining the need for affordable housing for older people in Victoria.

Read the Transcript here

LGBTI communities are at a higher risk of becoming homeless compared to the wider community. This risk is further compounded for older LGBTI people who are faced with additional challenges related to ageing and lifelong experiences of stigma and discrimination. The lack of services and programs available to these older people has contributed to a growing trend of older LGBTI people retiring into homelessness.

This joint submission arises from the LGBTI Elders Housing Project, being led by HAAG in partnership with Switchboard Victoria, Val’s LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care, Transgender Victoria and Thorne Harbour Health.

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Australia must address the rapidly increasing problem of homelessness for older people. Many of those affected are women and most are facing homelessness for the first time. They are facing unprecedented economic pressures relating to unaffordable rents and the cost of living, which continues to drive up the number older people facing homelessness. With tailored early intervention strategies to prevent homelessness we can avoid the many consequences of homelessness for older people including  premature entry into aged care, severely compromised physical and mental health and in this era of COVID-19, premature death due to the inability to socially isolate.

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Our clients who live in retirement housing options and receive their energy via an embedded network report concerns with exempt sellers over-charging them for their usage. Our clients often experience a digital divide in accessing adequate information, and commonly express a fear of speaking out and asserting their rights due to fear of negative consequences from management.

This feedback was provided to the Essential Service Commission’s (ESC) Maximum prices for embedded networks and other exempt sellers Draft Decision.

PDF icon Read the feedback here

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