The NSW Country Women’s Association has endorsed a motion from the Nowra CWA, advocating State and Commonwealth Governments take “co-ordinated and urgent action to address the national housing crisis facing women”.
CWA members met at its State conference in Bathurst from 8th to 11th May 2023 for policy direction and priority discussion with over 600 attending.
The Nowra CWA Branch put forward a motion highlighting the homeless emergency for people in Australia.
“That the policy of the CWA of NSW be to advocate the State and Commonwealth Governments to take co-ordinated and urgent action to address the national housing crisis facing women,” the full motion states.
Housing availability and stress is now the worst it has ever been in Australian history.
The CWA contends this is a social justice issue, however, homelessness, like mental health, is ignored or invisible to the media and much of the public.
The rise in the cost of living has exacerbated the situation of more than 3 million people.
One in eight Australians is living below the poverty line; more than one million Australians live in dire poverty.
Single women aged over 55 is the fastest growing homeless group.
Family and domestic violence is the biggest cause of homelessness.
Women who live in private rental accommodation are commonly exposed to financial hardship with two-thirds experiencing income poverty.
Fran Nicholson from the Nowra CWA Branch spoke of fleeing family violence with her five children more than 40 years ago, lamenting how the situation had only become worse.
“I left my husband with five children but no one would rent to me anywhere because I was a woman on the pension. That was 1981.
“Things are much worse these days. If I was in this situation now I would not survive. My family would not survive,” she said.
The NSW CWA called out State and Commonwealth governments for failing to act over the past two decades to build more homes and do maintenance on existing supply, leading to higher rates of homelessness.
Stresses have been further exacerbated by increased natural disasters and family violence.
Many people on low incomes cannot afford what is currently available on the open rental market. Investment property owners and short-term rentals or houses being left empty make this situation worse.
The Nowra Branch is providing ongoing financial assistance to the Shoalhaven through Supported Accommodation and Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra Ltd (SAHSSI) Shoalhaven Homeless Hub.