event recap - in conversation with women's property initiatives

The female face of the housing affordability crisis

Our Women in Super VIC members were given the opportunity to learn what they could do to help homeless women during a session with Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI) last week. We were joined by Jeanette Large, Chief Executive Officer, and Debra Mika, Chair, and learnt about why there is an increase in homelessness amongst women, what WPI are doing to solve the problem and what we can all do to help.

WPI is a not-for-profit community housing organisation who create new beginnings for women and children by providing permanent homes and access to support networks and ongoing advocacy.

Jeanette and Debra presented a range of disturbing statistics that highlighted just how prevalent homelessness is in Australian society:

  • 1 in 84 Australians sought help for homelessness in 2016/17
  • Of this, 2 out of 3 are women
  • One in every 6 were under the age of 10

There is a chronic need for stable and affordable housing in our community and WPI focus on providing this for women in particular. This is because there has been an increase in homeless women over the past decade. There are many reasons for this but a dominant driver for is family violence. We heard stories of women who stayed with violent partners to avoid they, and their children, becoming homeless.

Women also face the greatest disadvantage in accessing affordable housing options. This is because women tend to earn less, have fewer career opportunities and have greater limits on their career progression because they generally have primary carer responsibilities.

Since they began over 21 years ago, WPI have grown substantially and are now providing homes for over 200 women and children in Melbourne. By providing a secure home, their tenants experience an improvement in their emotional wellbeing and physical health and in their personal safety. In addition, they are more independent, make more positive life choices and are able to meet the basic needs for their children. These women also feel more included in society and are able to get themselves ready for employment. Having undertaken independent research into their return on investment, it was found that for every $1 invested by WPI in housing, $11 is returned in social value. WPI are encouraging people to use Property Initiatives Real Estate which is Australia’s first full-service, social enterprise real estate service if you are selling your home or need management of an investment property in Melbourne. People can also donate to the cause via their website or provide pro bono support in your area of expertise.

The messages WPI shared were timely and aligned closely with our Make Super Fair campaign which proposes measures that aim to ensure women retire with adequate superannuation and are able to afford a roof over their head. One of the reasons we launched the Make Super Fair campaign is because older single women are the fastest growing cohort of homeless women. This campaign is working towards achieving five key policy changes:

  • Provide women and other low income earners with an additional $1,000 contribution annually into their super, boosting their balance and helping them make up the super gap
  • Make sure there are no further delays in increasing the superannuation guarantee to 12%
  • Remove the $450 monthly pay threshold which sees an estimated 220,000 women miss out on super every year
  • Make sure that super is paid on parental leave, to ensure it is treated like all other types of leave
  • Measure and publish the impact that any future changes to super would have on women.

If you would like to learn more and sign up to support our Make Super Fair campaign, please click here.

At the event we raised $650 for WPI which will go directly towards helping women in need.


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