You may notice that women – and, often their children – feature in many of the stories you will read in our cost -of-living issue of Societynews. There are several telling reasons for this.
According to the Poverty in Australia 2020 report released by ACOSS and UNSW, women are more likely to live in poverty than men – 20% compared to 17% of men.
The report found that women also spend more years living in poverty compared to men, often due to the social pressures put on them, such as being the primary carer of children or elderly parents which negatively and profoundly impacts their employment opportunities.
Another key contributor to women’s poverty is that more than 8o% of single-parent families are ‘female-headed’. The other is family violence. At least one in six women have experienced intimate partner violence.
In addition, women experiencing abuse are also often in financial stress, live with a disability, and/or experience poor physical and mental health. The emotional and financial scars of family violence often stay with the woman and her children long after separation and manifest in a myriad of negative ways.
Age is not kind to women when it comes to poverty – 35% of Australian women have no money put away for retirement and, extremely worryingly, one in three Australian women do not have any superannuation at all, including 60% aged 65 to 69.
We see these figures reflected in the faces of people we assist every day – people you can read about here, like ‘Theresa’ who needed a raft of daily tablets after a stroke.
Or ‘Natasha’ who was expecting a baby but couldn’t afford a bassinet and all the other essentials needed for a newborn. Women, who through no fault of their own, find themselves unable to make ends meet.
We know that the cost of living is going to be a significant challenge as Victoria emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. We already see it in the rising petrol prices which jumped by 7.1% over recent months, and there is talk of rising interest rates, which also pushes up the price of everyday items such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
That is why our work here is so important. We don’t just try to ease the pressure; we also try to restore hope and dignity, because we believe firmly that no one should be living in poverty, and certainly not because of their gender.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support during what has been a trying year. Our members and volunteers, for continuing to deliver our services to all those in need of our assistance. Our employees, for their sacrifices and efforts in maintaining services and supporting to members and volunteers. Our supporters and donors, for their loyalty to our work.
To each and every one of you, a sincere thank you and best wishes for a peaceful and joy filled Christmas.