Pathways to Independence: Empowering Older Women Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness is scary for anyone at any age, but for women over 50, it can be particularly traumatic.  

There is a shocking lack of affordable housing here in Australia, meaning that more and more women are falling through the cracks in the system. 

That’s precisely why we’re addressing the issue. Our Pathways to Independence program supports women aged 50+ experiencing homelessness. As many as 86 per cent have been through domestic violence, while others may be facing discrimination, bereavement or other barriers, combined with financial difficulties and problems navigating complex welfare systems.  

This year, our End of Financial Year campaign is dedicated to this vital program, so that we can continue helping women to escape the dangers and insecurity of homelessness. We don’t get any government funding for this part of our work, but it is crucial for us to be able to continue the program. 

Through outreach, holistic case management, skills development and connection to appropriate housing options, Pathways to Independence helps women to feel empowered and to rebuild their lives. 

And it works. The women who come to our Pathways to Independence program have often already experienced significant trauma, like Dawn, a 51-year-old woman with an extensive history of extreme childhood abuse and neglect.  

Dawn was referred to us through a crisis refuge after becoming homeless when her mental health significantly deteriorated.  

After ensuring that Dawn had access to trauma counselling and Centrelink benefits, we supported her with subsidised medium-term housing, where she was able to return to more stable mental health.  

Our incredible team then advocated for Dawn to be housed in safe long-term housing close to her local hospital for continued mental health care. We also ensured that her psycho-social and financial needs were met. 

Dawn has stabilised her mental health and is independent, flourishing in the community. She was so excited to reach her housing, health and social goals.   

Homelessness is one of the most shocking examples of community disadvantage and social exclusion we have here in Australia.   

Nobody deserves to experience homelessness. It’s 2021 in ‘The Lucky Country’. It is unthinkable that people are facing these situations, and yet they are, every single day.  

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re already an awesome person. Perhaps you’re even looking for ways to support women and our work?  

If you can, we’re asking you to please consider supporting the Pathways to Independence campaign with an affordable donation. No matter what you can spare, donations of more than $2 are tax-deductible. Simply claim it in your tax return for 2021 (which is just around the corner)! 

The world has been quite a challenging place recently, so we know that it’s a big ask. You can rest assured, however, that your generosity will make a meaningful difference.  

If you’re currently not in a place to financially contribute, please consider sharing this campaign with like-minded people who may be able to do so.  

With your help, we can help restore a sense of peace and safety to the women we support and prevent them becoming entrenched in the vicious cycle of homelessness.  

Thank you for your kindness. 

YWCA Australia wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, live and play and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise First Nations people as the custodians of the lands, seas and skies, with more than 60,000 years of wisdom, connection and relationship in caring for Country.

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