Advocacy for Women Over Forty
Currently, estimates state that in Australia, 240,000 women aged 55 years and over are at risk of becoming homeless.
Research indicates that Australian women become happier as they age. Ironically, they are also at higher risk of economic insecurity and homelessness than their male counterparts.
“After illness, divorce or death of a spouse, older women are more likely to be living in poverty due to a lifetime of unpaid, low paid or irregular work, time out of the workforce caring for family and no superannuation.”
The newly-established Caboolture branch of the Older Women's Network Queensland Inc. (OWNQ) is one of a dozen groups operating across South-East Queensland supporting and advocating for women aged forty and over, promoting their rights, dignity, health and well-being.
Margaret Carr established the Caboolture branch last September along with Barbara Gray, who advertised for members on social media. With around twenty members attending their monthly meetings and coffee mornings, OWNQ is more than just a cuppa and friendship. It is vital in providing local knowledge of care services, transport assistance, social justice options and advocacy.
The 'dynamic duo' of Barbara and Margaret disseminate salient information for older women, arranging guests to speak at their monthly meetings on topics including security, home care services, scams, fitness, hearing and emergency wristbands. And if that's not enough, the group squeezes in a bit of charity fund-raising via a raffle, with prizes each meeting.
It is well known that feeling connected to your community correlates with better health outcomes. The OWNQ members confirm that having a friendly chat over coffee is a powerful way to address loneliness and feel supported by others in your area. Between coffee mornings and meetings, there is an opportunity for members to chat and connect every two weeks. The group will even assist with transport so all members can attend.
Joining OWNQ can be especially helpful for those who relocate to the area to be closer to family or feel lonely when widowed.
According to Margaret, many women were restricted to the home, in the past, caring for invalid family members. Their only social outing was to shop or visit the Doctor.
Barbara reveals that these ladies may find going into a large shopping centre daunting, and it takes time for them to gain confidence again, so the OWNQ Coffee mornings are held at smaller venues. Such supportive and considerate friendships are something the members appreciate most about the group, particularly in times of ill health.
"You are never alone," says Barbara. "There’s always someone just a phone call away.”
Margaret reveals that housing and financial security is the most challenging aspect for women as they age.
After illness, divorce or death of a spouse, older women are more likely to be living in poverty due to a lifetime of unpaid, low paid or irregular work, time out of the workforce caring for family and no superannuation.
Margaret comes across older households where the husband handled finances and administrative matters. Without financial knowledge or skills, the wives may fall vulnerable to scams after their husband's death. Rents become unaffordable on one pension. Some house-sit or stay with friends or relatives to avoid homelessness.
OWNQ branches promote the economic empowerment of older women through mentorship, coaching, and networking. They offer advice and a checklist for those considering moving to a retirement home or aged care facility. They also advise women to obtain affordable legal and financial advice.
Margaret says there are still barriers that hold women back: from the gender pay gap to carrying an unfair share of home and family care. She advocates for low-cost housing solutions for women and recommends they “Keep fighting. Speak with your local representatives. Come to OWNQ meetings and learn about their rights and what is available.”
The Caboolture Older Women’s branch has a lot of wisdom and local knowledge and welcomes new members. They’re a great example of living happier, healthier, better-informed lives in their older years.
Welcome new members
Meets first Thursday each month, 10.30 a.m.
Sports Central Caboolture, cnr Hasking St & Beerburrum Road, Caboolture
Annual membership fee $20
Ph: (07) 3358 2301 E:firstname.lastname@example.org