Preventing Homelessness for Mature Women: High Tech vs High Touch Support

Project dates: 01/02/2020 - Ongoing

This project aims to support mature women (aged 55+) to avoid homelessness before it begins, by equipping non-traditional early responders (that is, a professional source of support who is not directly associated with homeless services) for conversations with these women. We aim to combine high touch approaches (conversations) with high tech flexibility (digital support).

Why is this important?

In Queensland, 282,601 women aged 55-64 are homeless (ABS, 2018). Of these women only 12,000 sought assistance from homelessness services in 2016 – while this represents a 52% increase since 2011 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016), this still means that up to 95% of women are not necessarily accessing adequate support before reaching their next tenancy.

Mature women tend to have lower savings for later life, be more likely to not have paid employment and are more likely to have experienced domestic and family violence than men the same age (Mission Australia, 2017). Indeed, the current superannuation and gender pay gap stands at 47% (The Senate Economics References Committee, 2016), creating a potential ‘ticking time bomb’ for some women who may be relying on tenuous employment or a spouse. If crisis occurs, these women are not always able to be placed within safe and appropriate tenancy – often finding themselves in sharehouses or shelters where they may not feel safe, or choosing to seek out their own tenancy via sleeping in their vehicles or on a friends couch. With many of these women having been caregivers throughout their lives, they can be unfamiliar with the notion of asking for care for themselves. Indeed, women in the primary prevention phase may not be aware of the risks to look out for.

What we aim to do

This project is about preventing homelessness for mature women before it begins. This aim is to intervene prior to the crisis occurring. According to the health continuum of prevention, three stages of harm prevention exist: primary (prevent the harm occurring), secondary (attempt to stop existing harm early), and tertiary (attempt to reduce the impact of established harm). While there are some excellent resources available, these resources tend to focus on women in the secondary or tertiary points of intervention (at the ‘tipping point’ or already in crisis, respectively). Other resources such as helplines or access to emergency housing are also targeted to women already experiencing a crisis. We aim to help women at the primary stage.

The goal is to utilise a high tech/high touch toolkit that will enable early responders to have conversations with pre-crisis (primary prevention-stage) women to help them access the support needed.

 

For more information about this project please email kate.letheren@qut.edu.au


Funding / Grants

  • Dignity First Fund 2019, Department of Housing and Public Works (2019 - 2020)

Chief Investigators

Partners

Other Partners


 

Rich Media

  • “Preventing homelessness for mature women with QUT BEST practice” – QUT Business School News [Read Article]
  • “Student project spurs ‘toolkit’ to prevent mature women becoming homeless” – Brisbane Times [Read Article] & Sydney Morning Herald [Read Article]