Providing sanctuary: The aged care provider offering support to homeless women over 55

With homelessness amongst senior women becoming more prevalent, one Sydney-based organisation has offered a solution. Source: Getty Images.

In an effort to combat rising homelessness amongst senior women, a not-for-profit aged care provider has offered a solution that will provide shelter for countless women in Sydney’s northern beaches.

James Milson Village (JMV) has partnered with Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter (NBWS) to provide affordable housing to women over 55 who are at risk of homelessness. The accommodation they are providing is located within their retirement villages.

The 2021 Census showed that 4.1 per cent of homeless Australians are female, which is an increase of 10 per cent since 2016. Similarly, it was reported that women over 55 are among the fastest-growing demographic to experience homelessness, with over 7,000 reported to be without shelter.  

JMV, with more than five years of experience providing care for the retired in northern Sydney, is well-placed to provide shelter to these vulnerable women.

Bradley Williams, JMV Chief Executive Officer (CEO) explained, “James Milson Village is honoured to partner with Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter to extend housing assistance to those who need it most.”

Hearing firsthand from the residents that this partnership has been lifesaving for them underscores the immeasurable value of such collaborations,” Williams said.

Robyn, a Support Services Coordinator at NBWS commented, “Working with James Milson Village has been an excellent experience. Effective communication and robust support have been integral to our success.”

Starting as a trial program with the NBWS supporting women aged 55 and over to integrate into their new community, the collaboration has already achieved great success and will continue into the future to ensure those at risk have access to affordable housing.

Housing insecurity among older Australian women is a multifaceted problem rooted in various factors.

These include a lack of superannuation, insecure or inconsistent work during their lifetime, age and gender discrimination, the sudden onset of health concerns, the end of a relationship, and having to leave an unstable home due to domestic violence.

Another deeply disturbing contributing factor is the ongoing and persistent housing crisis caused by skyrocketing house and rental prices. Especially in Sydney, Australia’s most expensive city.

Last year the Ageing on the Edge NSW Coalition submitted an inquiry to Parliament.  It stated that senior homelessness had become a major issue even before recent global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and bushfires.

The report read, “There is a significant shortage of social and affordable housing across NSW and the current COVID-19 related challenges and bushfires in 2019-20 among other issues exacerbated the demand for affordable housing.”

In response to this devastating housing crunch which is affecting those who should be enjoying their later years and not scrambling to put a roof over their heads, there has been a growing call for affordable housing.

The solution provided by JMV and NBWS is really making a difference in their communities with new residents heaping praise on the collaboration which has made a significant difference in their lives.

One person said, “For the first time in many years, I feel safe in my home. I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded people, reminiscent of my younger years. My home is now my sanctuary, and I haven’t felt this happy and fulfilled since my early twenties in college.”

Another added, “Now I feel like I’m taking better care of my health and that I’m an integral part of a community.”

This glowing response will no doubt drive both organisations to continue to support their communities by seeking further solutions to the crisis.









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