Every organisation seeks to contribute to change and impact. In the context of social change, where influences are many and outcomes are not straightforward, what’s the problem we are addressing, what’s our role, and what’s the impact and change we want to achieve? The Theory of Change is big picture, future-focussed, and sets up the how (the Strategic Plan).
A Theory of Change starts with the organisational WHY – the problem we are responding to, and our role in making a difference. It tells a story of change, identifying short, medium and long-term outcomes for impact.
Why is our Theory of Change important?
- It defines our purpose and focus.
- It helps to manage ‘mission drift’.
- It defines the high-level outcomes we want to work towards.
- It succinctly outlines our organisational ‘why’, for us and our stakeholders.
What is the problem we are responding to?
Access to safe, secure and affordable housing is a fundamental human right and driver for gender equality.
Young women, women and gender diverse people disproportionately experience housing stress and instability, challenges in accessing safe and affordable housing, and the risks of homelessness. In 2021-22, the majority of people accessing specialist homelessness services were women (60%). Almost two-thirds of adults aged 25-34 experiencing homelessness were women. While the numbers of women aged 55 years and over were small (about 8% of all female clients), they were increasing at a greater rate than men aged 55 years and over (AIHW 2022).
Housing careers and pathways are gendered and intersectional, due to the systemic and structural drivers of gender inequality and family and domestic violence.
In 2021-2022, 37% of clients accessing specialist homelessness services had experienced family and domestic violence – of those aged over 18 years, 76% were women and nearly half were living as a single parent (AIHW 2022). Women were more likely to present with children, be housed privately (including temporary and unsafe accommodation), with safe and secure housing an immediate priority. They are twice as likely as men not to receive assistance.
The challenges are compounded for First Nations women, women with disability, migrants and asylum seekers, and people of marginalised genders, due to lack of appropriate housing and supports, economic disadvantage and institutional and structural discrimination.
Women may be housed – and homeless.
Insecure and temporary tenure, overcrowding, an unsafe environment and lack of choice and control over living conditions, may all render a woman effectively homeless. Our 2020 research with women on low to moderate incomes across regional Australia found: 1 in 5 said their housing was not suitable for them; 1 in 3 who live in unsuitable housing did not feel safe in their home; 2 in 3 were experiencing housing stress; 1 in 8 had been homeless in the last 5 years, and 1 in 4 of them hid their homelessness from others. One in 5 knew at least one woman who is currently homeless (YWCA National Housing, 2020).
There is a lack of safe, secure and affordable housing that meets the needs of young women, women and people of marginalised genders.
In 2017, there were an estimated 1.3 million households in housing need (unable to access market housing and households requiring rent assistance to avoid rental stress). This is projected to rise to 1.7 million households by 2025 (AHURI, 2017). The lack of safe, secure, accessible and affordable housing has been identified as a key issue in blocking exits from crisis and temporary accommodation and specialist homelessness assistance.
Existing supply is often limited by traditional typologies that do not cater to the needs of women and gender diverse people, and may not be appropriately located with connections to community and required social supports.
Housing and homelessness are intersectional feminist issues
- There is a critical need for specialist feminist housing responses and supports that understand intersectional housing pathways and address existing and unmet needs. This includes a deep understanding of how family and domestic violence affects housing needs and pathways, support requirements and well-being. Targeted early intervention is required.
- There is an additional priority need for systems and structural change, to deliver a future where gender equality is a reality.
- This must be led by young women in all their diversity and gender diverse people, bringing their lived experiences to advocacy and leadership for change.
Through our strategic core activities…
- Deliver safe, affordable housing and referral pathways for young women and women.
- Provide case management and support to young women and women at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
- Galvanise our membership to advocate for young women and women’s housing, support services and systems change.
- Create tailored leadership pathways for young women with lived experiences in homelessness and housing risk.
- Apply an intersectional feminist approach to achieve sustainability and impact.
- Young women and women have access to safe, affordable, appropriate, accessible and secure housing in proximity to community supports and infrastructure.
- Young women and women have supports that meet their needs and facilitate positive pathways and wellbeing.
- We have a robust evidence base demonstrates the case for housing and social supports for young women and women.
- Young women have increased capacity and capability to lead housing and social supports advocacy and policy discussions.
- Young women and women have increased housing choices that meet their requirements.
- We have effective and sustainable partnerships facilitate positive supports and outcomes.
- Ecosystem decision-makers value the social and economic benefits of housing and social supports for young women and women. Young women influence key policy and systems change.
- Young women and women experience increased well-being, safety, and security in their homes.
- Young women lead policy and systems change for effective housing pathways and social supports.
Our purpose: Making young women’s leadership and women’s housing our priority for gender equity in Australia.
Our vision: A future where gender equality is a reality.