QUEENSLAND charity, The Lady Musgrave Trust, has announced a new initiative to help older women facing homelessness.
The Trust, which is dedicated to sheltering vulnerable women and their children, has launched the Ending Homelessness for Older Women Project in response to the alarming increase in homelessness among mature aged women.
The project - supported by the Foundation Property Trust - plans to produce a resource guide bringing together information on all the resources and services available to older women. At least 12,000 copies of the guide will be produced.
The program will also include a pilot accommodation program in Ipswich later this year.
Trust chief executive Karen Lyon Reid said women over 50 are the fastest growing group of people at risk of homelessness in Australia.
"The ABS Census data identified a 31 per cent increase in older women's homelessness over five years.
"That's an alarming increase in women facing homelessness and we need to address these statistics."
However, Ms Lyon Reid believes the problems may actually be worse than it appears.
"This demographic is often invisible and the statistics don't tell the full story," she said.
"Many of these women end up staying with friends, in motels,or sleeping rough in their cars - they're very private people and they feel ashamed about their circumstances, so it's hard to capture these people in a census."
Ms Lyon Reid said the increase in homelessness in older women was due to a number of factors including relationship breakdown, domestic violence, pay and superannuation inequality and a reluctance and lack of awareness of how to seek support.
The Lady Musgrave Trust is currently liaising with peak bodies and charities and undertaking research to put together the guide.
The project's findings will be presented at the Trust's 12th Annual Forum for Women and Homelessness in August 2020.
The Lady Musgrave Trust currently provides around 8000 bed nights of safe accommodation for vulnerable women and their children each year.
More information: 07-3077-6760, ladymusgravetrust.org.au