From left: Catherine Brown, CEO of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation,
Dr Susan Feldman, Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University, Sue Hendy, CEO of COTA Victoria at the launch of The Time of Our Lives Report?
As we marked International Women’s Day last week, a new report, The Time of Our Lives Report? was launched showing that half a million older Australian women were living in poverty.
The research was undertaken by Dr. Susan Feldman and Dr. Harriet Radermacher from Monash University and commissioned by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
The research showed that some 34 per cent of single women over 60 lived in permanent income poverty, compared to 27 per cent of single older men and 24 per cent of couples.
The most common triggers that plunge older women into poverty included losing a job, becoming ill or injured, the breakup of a marriage or the death of a spouse or family violence. There is a ‘complex mix of circumstances’ that discriminate against women, including the casualisation of the workforce and the superannuation system..
By age 65, women retire with about a third of the superannuation that men accrue, and government benefits account for 60 per cent of their income.
Dr Feldman, who has been researching the area of older women and ageing for more than 20 years, lamented that more progress has not been made on older women and poverty.
Dr Feldman said government agencies and organisations were working with a limited understanding of the issue due to poor data. The study found that older women need “a strong national voice” articulating strategies to achieve gender equity in areas like superannuation, pay and flexible employment.
The report urged collaborations between government, community groups, researchers and the business sector to develop and implement innovative models of affordable housing, particularly for older women.
Dr Feldman also said she wanted to see the workplace become a more welcoming place and provide the same opportunities for women who wanted to remain working, through more flexible arrangements. Such efforts would not just boost women’s income but also bring about a sense of inclusion, she said.
The research study, The Time of Our Lives? is available to read here.