When you think of homelessness what image springs to mind? Often it is not an older woman that you envisage. This year Queensland’s oldest charity – The Lady Mulgrave Trust – has chosen to highlight the plight of our most vulnerable older women. In 2021 more than ever mature Australian women are finding themselves in circumstances where they can no longer afford a roof over their head or food for their table.They are some of the invisible statistics of the pandemic.
The Lady Musgrave Trust is a charitable organisation which was started by Queensland Governor’s Wife, Lady Jeanie Lucinda Musgrave, in 1885. It’s a charity which helps all homeless women and was started to protect young women and their children facing homelessness due to domestic violence, poverty, relationship breakdown, poor health and other complex issues. The trust believes all women deserve to feel safe and live a life free from hardship. She Society headed along to the annual Lady Musgrave Trust VIP Cocktail Party which raises much needed funds for Queensland women in need.
My own demographic, women over 55, are now shockingly the fastest- growing group of people at risk of homelessness in Australia. There has been an alarming rise in older women’s homelessness over five years, seeing a 31 percent increase in these statistics. Experts fear the problem could be even greater with many women sleeping at friends, in motels, house sitting or sleeping rough in cars. Many are too proud to ask for help.
The Lady Musgrave Trust has created The Handy Guide For Older Women which is a comprehensive resource that lists support services for women who are without shelter or at risk of becoming homeless.The guide provides relevant and practical information to help older women navigate their unique circumstances. This handy guide looks at the whole woman, not just their housing needs, and includes planning tools and a directory of services from health and well-being to training and employment. The aim is to stop homelessness before it happens.
Throughout Queensland there are close to 10 000 women homeless, including over 2000, in the Brisbane area alone. The Lady Musgrave Trust currently provides around 8000 bed nights of safe accommodation for vulnerable women and children each year. This charity is on the ground here in Brisbane and if you or anyone you know is seeking help you can download these guides or contact the Trust which cater to the circumstances of younger and now older women.
It is appalling to think of the many women who worked all their lives, raised families, ran businesses and owned homes who are now on the brink of homelessness or are already homeless.The Lady Musgrave Trust has been helping women for 130 years and it’s time to highlight the plight of the vulnerable older women who have been the backbones of our communities. Look out for those around you. Notice any changes. We can’t let our Mums and friends become just another statistic.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).