L-R: CHAC 2021 college captains Matthew Stoward, Sam Clark, Juliet Munro and Penelope Spears
The outgoing student leaders at Cannon Hill Anglican College are leaving a charitable legacy for the school’s future leaders.
As their parting gift, the year 12 students and college captains Penelope Spears, Juliet Munro, Sam Clark and Matthew Stoward chose The Lady Musgrave Trust as a major recipient for their annual donations.
In choosing the Trust, they were inspired to help women experiencing domestic and family violence, the leading cause of homelessness for women in Australia.
In particular, the school and the associated community were impacted by the death of Hannah Clarke and her children, when they were killed by Hannah’s estranged husband in 2020.
“I have a close friend who knew Hannah, and her mum taught her children at the school, so she was deeply impacted when it happened, and I know she felt quite powerless in that situation,” Juliet Munro said.
“So that’s what I was thinking when I suggested we help a charity that addresses domestic and family violence.”
Funds were raised from a major whole-of-school fundraising event – Denim Day – where students were invited to wear denim and contribute a $5 donation to do so. It was a part of the school’s fundraising event, called the Awesome Month of August.
The Student Council said almost all of the school’s close to 1200 students participated, raising a sizable sum for the school to donate to charities of their choosing.
When asked what they hoped the funds would contribute to, the students said that education was on the top of their list, as well as support services and information about domestic and family violence for women.
The Lady Musgrave Trust recently announced a project with Small Steps 4 Hannah, a foundation set up by Hannah Clarke’s parents and friends to halt domestic and family violence and take the steps required to do it.
In particular, Small Steps 4 Hannah is helping The Lady Musgrave Trust create a digital resource for women in crisis, with a particular focus on assisting women experiencing domestic and family violence. Find out more here.
The Lady Musgrave Trust is Queensland’s oldest charity and a champion for homeless women. The Trust receives no ongoing funding from government, and relies on charitable donations. You can help support The Lady Musgrave Trust by making a donation.
L-R Mark Woolley (SS4H Chair), Lloyd Clarke (Hannah’s Father), Karen Lyon Reid (LMT CEO), Louise Kelly (LMT President)
Queensland’s oldest charity, The Lady Musgrave Trust, is teaming up with one of its youngest, The Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation, to ensure that women in Queensland will have a helping hand at their fingertips, anywhere and anytime.
Small Steps 4 Hannah, established in memory of Hannah Clarke and her children, has donated $60,000 to help The Lady Musgrave Trust digitise its popular Handy Guides for Homeless Women.
The murder of Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey in February 2020 was a ‘line in the sand’ moment for domestic violence in Australia. In their quest to honour their memory, the Clarke family established the Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation to help ensure no family should have to endure their pain again.
“Our grants support victims of domestic violence and coercive control to create a safer, informed community that promotes respect and the confidence to act,” said Mark Woolley, Chair of the Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation.
“We look to partner with organisations and projects that share our mission to halt domestic violence, whether that be through support services or education programs.”
The latest project to receive the support of the Small Steps 4 Hannah Foundation is The Lady Musgrave Trust’s Handy Guides for Homeless Women, which will be transformed from their current hard copy formats and include a portal dedicated to family and domestic violence content and services. The new products will be distributed to thousands of organisations and women statewide each year – and launched in early 2022.
“The opportunity to work with The Lady Musgrave Trust means together we can meet the very real needs of victims, survivors and at-risk people by expanding The Handy Guide and granting many women access to information and resources to help their situation,” Mr Woolley said.
“With our funding, The Lady Musgrave Trust can grow to ultimately reduce the severity and frequency of domestic violence.”
Mr Woolley said the electronic directory will assist women at risk of family and domestic violence.
“The Trust is affording practical and compassionate aid to women throughout Queensland,” he said.
“We anticipate the inclusion of the new portal for family and domestic violence content and services will empower victims, drive social change and halt the cycle of domestic violence.”
The Lady Musgrave Trust Chief Executive Officer Karen Lyon Reid said the electronic roll-out of the Guide will give users access to the most up-to-date homelessness and crisis services on their smartphones and other devices, including the latest information about where to find accommodation, community centres, food and welfare services, laundry and healthcare specialist services.
“We identified how we could improve the way we provide our information in our Handy Guide and that is to do it online,” Ms Lyon Reid said.
“We are taking advantage of technology that is easily accessible. The prospect of life on the streets can be lonely and daunting. We want women to know that information is at their fingertips, anytime and anywhere. We are opening doors that could be a life-saver in helping women who face so many challenges many of us could not imagine.”
Since 2009, 25,000 copies of the Guide have been printed annually and it has become one of the most highly regarded directories of its kind for women in need, governments, hospitals and not-for-profit organisations.
Although the Guide is going digital with funding provided by Small Steps 4 Hannah, Ms Lyon Reid said the main goal and function of the Guide remained unchanged.
“We will continue to provide quality service to our customers, being women of need of all ages and to the social services sector through expansion and growth of our services,” she said.
“It’s an exciting new phase in the continued growth of The Lady Musgrave Trust.”
Can you help? Social Work students from Australian Catholic University are conducting a survey with The Lady Musgrave Trust to understand how people; and more specifically women, search for information if they find themselves or someone they know in an abusive relationship, and also the type of information or services they would like to access.
We are pleased to welcome North Harbour as a proud supporter of The Lady Musgrave Trust – our first development partner!
Home to more than 2000 residents, the award-winning community of North Harbour is located in the beautiful Moreton Bay Region.
“North Harbour values the wonderful work that community groups and charities do, particularly in our part of the world,” says Bryan Finney, North Harbour’s Project Director.
“We have recently partnered with The Lady Musgrave Trust, who do wonderful work supporting women in hardship. I thank the Trust for what they do and we are pleased to be able to support them in this way.”
The Lady Musgrave Trust’s CEO, Karen Lyon Reid, says North Harbour are wonderful supporters of many community groups and charities, and “the Trust is honored to receive their support.”
Recently, North Harbour came alive with an open-air concert “Songs at Twilight”, where all of the fundraising went towards the Trust.
“North Harbour continues to support the Trust, particularly supporting our Handy Guide products. It’s such a great community,” says Karen Lyon Reid.
Pictured above at North Harbour’s Songs at Twilight event are Karen Lyon Reid (left) with Board Director Allison McKelvie. Photo courtesy of Moreton Daily.
If you are heading up north, take a drive and visit the wonderful location of North Harbour – you’ll discover a lovely community spirit and it will be worth the visit.
Check out a little bit more about North Harbour in our 2021 Annual Forum video below.
The Lady Musgrave Trust 2021 Annual Forum was proudly brought to you by our sponsors Queensland Government, North Harbour, Watson & Associates, Keystone Private, Lovewell Cafe, Lucid Media and The Content Division.
We’ve just wrapped up our 13th Annual Forum on Women and Homelessness and it was a huge success! After our original plans to host this year’s Forum during Homelessness Week were postponed due to lockdown, we decided to take the whole Forum online for the second year in a row.
This year’s theme was “Seize the Momentum”, which focused on building and maintaining the momentum over the past 18 months for women’s voices to be heard and for expedited solutions to end homelessness.
Hosting the Forum once again was the brilliant Leigh Muirhead, alongside our CEO Karen Lyon Reid and an impressive lineup of speakers from many organisations in the homelessness sector, who all pivoted to bring us their presentations online.
For the hundreds of registrants who signed up to watch the Forum live online, we hope you enjoyed the sessions and found the content valuable (let us know here).
If you missed it, below is a summary of the speaker’s presentations and findings. You can click on the links at the end of each paragraph to watch individual segments, or view the entire Forum recording in full below.
A special welcome
We kicked off the Annual Forum with an opening message from The Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP, Minister for Communities & Housing, who outlined the Action Plan from the Palaszczuk Government to boost housing supply and improve coordination in the delivery of services.
“Far too many Queensland women and their children are at risk of homelessness, and we need new solutions to alleviate this need, especially with the new challenges of COVID-19.
“With an increasing number of older women at an increased risk of homeless, the Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring all women, regardless of age, can access housing assistance if they need it.”
Karen Lyon Reid, CEO of The Lady Musgrave Trust, provided an update on The Handy Guide for Homeless Women, which is our directory of information and services for women in need. These guides are distributed daily by sector workers and volunteers and will soon be digitalised, making it even easier for people to access this information.
Our first speaker was Aimee McVeigh, CEO of QCOSS (Queensland Council of Social Service), who spoke about the scale of the housing crisis in Queensland, the response to homelessness as a direct result of COVID-19, rental reforms and what the outcomes for women look like, and how economic downturns present opportunities for stimulus in a way that creates social benefits for generations to come.
“Queensland is absolutely in the thick of a housing crisis. We have over 50,000 people on our housing register. If those people came together and formed a town, it would be the fifth biggest town in Queensland.”
Crucially, Aimee shared a number of indicators that we have reasons to be optimistic and that it is possible to address housing and homelessness issues for women in Queensland, Australia and around the world.
The road home: creating a community for connection, inclusion and welcome for new arrivals in Queensland
Our next speaker was Christine Castley from Multicultural Australia, a non-for-profit that provides support to the thousands of refugees settling into Queensland every year. Christine spoke about the significant journey these people face and the accommodation and settlement support that is provided to them on arrival.
“Homelessness is a significant issue for any person who experiences it, but for refugees and migrants in particular, there is often a significance of secure housing.”
Christine spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on refugees, students and migrants, and shared three case studies of instances where Multicultural Australia have stepped in to assist refugee families.
“To have a safe and stable place of their own represents much more to a refugee than to someone who has never known such a loss of home, community and country.”
Next we heard from Anne-Marie Robert from the Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation who spoke about Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy (NHS) – a ten year, $70+ billion plan to reduce homelessness for Canadians in need.
Under the NHS, public, private and not-profit sectors will come together with the aim to create affordable, stable and livable communities through a mixture of loan and grant funding. The goal is to ensure Canadians across the country have access to housing that meets their needs and is affordable.
One of the priority projects highlights the link between women with experiences of violence, housing instability and homelessness, and the disparity between how these services actually operate, often resulting in turnaways.
“There is a well-evidenced link between experiences of violence, housing instability and homelessness for women – but the homelessness-serving sector and domestic violence sector often operate separately. How can we better support cross-sectoral responses to housing needs for women, including women who have experienced or are at risk of violence?”
The first Canadian community to eradicate chronic homelessness
Next, Dr. Alina Turner from HelpSeeker spoke about the impact technology has on housing and homelessness, and introduced the Medicine Hat project, which became the first city in Canada to end chronic homelessness.
Medicine Hat, a city in Alberta, is big enough to have a homelessness challenge, but small enough that they could experiment with innovative solutions.
“Medicine Hat has been a beacon of hope for Canada, it has shown us that [ending homelessness] can be done, but it’s an ongoing project. It’s not an “ending homelessness and we’re done”.
The phases of work included creating the space to innovate, formalising a systems approach and having a vision beyond an end to homelessness.
“When we started this we didn’t know what exactly we were getting into. We started with housing first, then came systems planning. We can house people, but if all those underlying root causes and challenges aren’t disrupted, then we’re really just spinning wheels. We also looked at people and performance indicators, service quality standards and a rights-based approach to housing. We took a data-driven approach, but we also looked beyond homelessness to address homelessness.”
We were then joined in the studio by The Lady Musgrave Trust Director, Jenny Clark, who had a great discussion with Rachel Watson about housing scalability and solutions, such as the Housing Action Lab.
Rachel spoke about how to scale housing solutions to create change, asking the question “What transformative actions can we take together today to deliver the housing solutions of tomorrow?”
The Housing Action Lab applies the elements of scaling, but most importantly demonstrates the process of “spreading impact”.
“Moving the language from replication or pilots to scaling is a really important one. We need to think about [solutions] as a scaling initiative, not a “cut and paste”.
Rachel and Jenny also discussed the impact of increasing housing costs in combination with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. What is going to be the impact of affordable housing?
“The 2032 Olympics are such an opportunity, but also a threat by way of further increasing property prices and excluding people on lower incomes from many areas that get caught up in Olympics-driven demand. It often ends up serving people on higher incomes, both in terms of increased property values as well as increasing the threshold of entry into certain local housing markets.“
Our next speaker was Susan Davies, who shared a new Queensland housing initiative called Sharing With Friends. Started by a group of Zonta members, Sharing with Friends is a co-housing model of affordable home ownership to women retiring on meager superannuation.
“Having a house, a secure place to live, where you can keep contributing to community life, you can still be connected socially, you’re not alone, I think it’s a wonderful concept and really part of my commitment to the community, which I’ve been working to build all my professional life.” – Sharing With Friends resident
Our next speaker was Emma Telfer, the Director of Culture & Strategy at Assemble, a private property development group with a real focus on affordable and social housing.
Emma shared the Assemble future housing model, which is an alternative pathway to home ownership in Australia. This includes a “Build to rent to own” model, which gives residents a 5-year lease with the option to purchase upon conclusion. Residents range from first homebuyers to older single women looking to secure their financial future.
“This is an alternative pathway into home ownership for people who have been locked out for whatever reason, whether that is rising house prices or their inability to get into a position to save the extraordinary amount of money you need for a home deposit. Residents have a fixed arrangement, so they know exactly what they are working towards and are supported through a number of programs like financial coaching, bulk buying and community engagement.”
Sheree Taylor, the current President, and Radmila Desic, past president, discussed the employment opportunities for women in construction and trade.
“There are two factors that become a challenge and barrier for women. One is the employers themselves – the industry has not been as quick and ready to take on women, particularly around non-traditional trades. The other area is as primary caregivers – the flexibility of this industry is somewhat difficult if you’ve got young children. NAWIC is creating strategies and working with the state government to make significant changes to improve these two factors.”
After more than nine years of service, our President and Chairman Patricia McCormack is retiring from The Lady Musgrave Trust.
Patricia has served as President on the Board of The Lady Musgrave Trust for the past six years, and as a Director for three years before that. We would like to recognise and thank Patricia for her long-time service and commitment to fighting women’s homelessness and improving the lives of young women in Queensland.
“It was my honour and pleasure to serve as President and Chairman of the Board for this magnificent charitable organisation,” says Patricia.
“The journey for me has been very rewarding, although at times very challenging and time demanding. I am very proud of the Trust, its place in the community and the services delivered which make it the successful organisation that it is today.”
Patricia has been a huge changemaker for the Trust. Some of her achievements during her tenure include:
Expanding our property portfolio
Positioning The Handy Guide for Homeless Women as one of our most valuable support services
Completing an 18-month project to address homelessness for older women
Launching the creation of new marketing and branding for the Trust
Strengthening our governance framework and the diversity of expertise within our board
Significantly increasing our supporter base and financial position
Stepping into the new role as President is Louise Kelly, who has been a Director on the board of The Lady Musgrave Trust for several years.
“Patricia has been the heart and soul of The Lady Musgrave Trust for many years now,” says Louise. “The hard work and dedication that she has put into the Trust means that she is leaving a legacy of a professionally run charity, well respected for the important work that it does in supporting vulnerable women in Queensland.
“For those of us who have had the privilege of working with Patricia and learning from her, we wish her all the best in her retirement and thank her on behalf of the many women whose lives have been positively impacted by the work she has done.”
Incoming President Louise Kelly pictured with Patricia McCormack at The Lady Musgrave Trust’s High Tea Fundraiser
The Lady Musgrave Trust CEO Karen Lyon Reid says the Trust’s successes could not have been achieved without Patricia’s leadership.
“Under Patricia’s stewardship, the legacy Lady Musgrave established 136 years ago will continue well beyond the 136th year we now celebrate.”
Although it is a sad moment for Patricia, she remains confident that Louise, together with Karen and the remaining Board members, will ably take the Trust forward to a very positive future.
“I believe the Trust is now in a very good position and will continue its growth and success in the future. I must thank the generous support of our many contributors – our donors, sponsors, volunteers and our partners who are a vital part of our story. Thank you also to the past and current Directors who have worked with me over this time.”
While we are sad to see her go, The Lady Musgrave Trust wishes Patricia all the best for her next chapter.
Myer Indooroopilly is set to raise significant funds this month to help the effort to end women’s homelessness in Brisbane.
The Lady Musgrave Trust has been selected by the Myer Community Fund to receive donations in kind, through Myer Indooroopilly’s Local Giving Month POS Round Up Campaign.
Customers shopping in-store at Myer Indooroopilly will have the opportunity to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the organisation.
The Queensland charity – dedicated to sheltering vulnerable women and their children – is grateful to Myer for their support.
“Myer strongly believes in supporting the community and we have been fortunate to build a strong partnership with Myer Indooroopilly for several years now”, says Karen Lyon Reid, Chief Executive Officer of The Lady Musgrave Trust.
“Their innovative “Round Up Campaign” will help The Lady Musgrave Trust to provide assistance to homeless women and their children who are often affected by domestic violence.”
The Trust provides women and their children with accommodation in safe and furnished units throughout Brisbane and Ipswich. Currently the Trust provides about 8000 bed-nights of safe accommodation each year.
Shop in-store at Myer Indooroopilly and round up your purchase to the nearest dollar. All funds raised for the month of February will support The Lady Musgrave Trust.
You can also make a direct donation to The Lady Musgrave Trust.
Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. Most of us look forward to the holiday season in anticipation of laughter and fun, spending quality time with family and friends. It is especially true in 2020, with COVID impacting the precious time spent with loved ones.
But unfortunately for many Queensland women and their children, Christmas is not a time of joy. It is a tragic time marked by fear and intimidation with increases in domestic and family violence (DFV).
“Christmas tends to be a time of more. More family visits, more food shopping, more present buying, more alcohol consumed, more spending. This season of more can exacerbate families under strain. This can lead to domestic violence in the household.”
Domestic violence describes a person being subjected to an ongoing pattern of abusive behaviour by an intimate partner or family member. This behaviour is motivated by a desire to dominate, control or oppress the other person and to cause fear. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, financial and sexual abuse.
Helen says DFV can be experienced by anyone in a domestic or family relationship, from any age group, financial bracket, gender partnership and any cultural group, but “some people are sadly more at risk. Most people accept that DFV is gendered violence – meaning that 70% of domestic violence is experienced by women.”
Tragically, it is younger women who are most at risk. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 13% of women aged 18–24 experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months, compared with 8% of women aged 35–44 and 2% of women aged 55 years and over.
According to ANROWS, 61% of women had children in their care when the violence occurred. Yasmin Dulley, Principal at Byron Family Law, says that courts and family law solicitors generally see an increase in client reports of domestic violence around the Christmas period “as well as applications made in both State (domestic violence) and Federal Courts (parenting matters).”
“This is due to a number of factors, including tension around any terms of agreement relating to parenting matters and the practical implementation of those agreements. Conflict often arises around changeover times and locations, as well as agreement on who will have the care of the child over Christmas,” Yasmin explains.
“Our role as solicitors is to ensure that parents or carers have certainty and clarity around any agreed terms or the terms of a court order, so as to reduce additional stress and conflict.”
One of the highest social risk factors of domestic violence is housing.
“Housing is a critical issue for all people who have experienced DFV, and is a major contributor to women and children’s homelessness,” says Helen. “This is why the community needs to support crisis care, including safe housing, counselling and other associated needs (like personal feminine care items, bags, etc).”
The Lady Musgrave Trust produces the Handy Guide for Homeless Women each year, a booklet that provides support services for women who are without shelter or at risk of becoming homeless.
The Family and Federal Circuit Courts have recently introduced an innovative pilot called The Lighthouse Project which Yasmin says is designed to assist families most at risk of experiencing family violence, to navigate the family law system.
“The Lighthouse Project aims to improve the safety of children and families within family law proceedings through early risk screening, early identification and management of safety concerns, assessment and triage by a specialist team and referral of high-risk cases to a dedicated court list,” explains Yasmin.
Helen says this is a social problem that everyone is responsible for ending. “A key sign of domestic violence is increased isolation of the woman removing herself from established support networks (e.g. work friends, family, neighbours) so she can’t escape the fear and intimidation.
“COVID restrictions have increased concern for women’s safety for a lot of services. There are stories of women being in awful socially isolated situations. For example, one woman’s only access to support was having a community worker in the car with her when she had a scheduled driving lesson, as this was the only time her partner let her out of his sight.
“Don’t be afraid to ask if your friend is OK. But make sure you do it safely,” she says. This includes not asking how they are going in front of the person that could be abusing them. “Choose your timing well for her. This often includes the children’s safety – be mindful of their situation, too.”
Helen adds, “There is often a lot of shame felt by women living in domestic violence. The best thing you can do is show compassion and not judge your friend. We want them to know we are here for them and willing to help.”
This Christmas, keep your eyes and ears open to what may be happening behind closed doors near you. It takes a village to stop domestic violence and women’s homelessness before it happens.
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic and family violence, there are many services available in Queensland that can help:
If it is an emergency, contact Queensland Police Service (000) for immediate response. QPS have an automatic referral to a counsellor who will support women and advise them of the support services available.
DV Connect (1800 811 811) is an organisation that provides crisis support and counselling, as well as a women’s refuge service assisting women and children affected by a domestic violence incident to obtain placement into crisis care.
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a telephone helpline for friends and family to report if someone they know is experiencing domestic violence.
Relationships Australia QLD (1300 364 277) is an organisation that provides relationship support and advice to individuals and families across Queensland.
Mensline (1800 041 612) is a national telephone and online support, information and referral service for men.
Immigrant Women’s Support Service (07 3846 3490) offers support to immigrant and refugee women from non-English speaking backgrounds and their children who have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence.
Women’s Legal Service (1800 957 957) and Legal Aid QLD (1300 65 11 88) provides free legal advice and legal support services to victims of domestic violence, including in relation to applications for a domestic violence order, children’s Court matters and Family Law matters generally.
Queensland’s oldest charity has turned its attention to focus on supporting the growing number of older women who are facing housing uncertainty.
Senior women facing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic have benefitted from increased payments via JobSeeker and increased availability in the private rental sector, but The Lady Musgrave Trust’s chief executive officer Karen Lyon Reid said there was still very much an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear.
“The increase in housing availability and payments while positive are only providing temporary relief,” she said.
The Lady Musgrave Trust, established in 1885, is Queensland’s oldest charity and a champion for homeless women.
Last year, the Trust surveyed more than 100 women experiencing or concerned about homelessness after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced older women’s homelessness had increased by 31 per cent between the past two census periods.
“Women 55 or over represent the fastest growing demographic in the homeless population,” Karen said.
“The rate of growth in this demographic is a new and alarming phenomenon.”
The Trust provides life-saving services to vulnerable women and their children when they are facing critical homeless situations.
Women like Elly, who at 76 has struggled to find affordable and suitable housing since the break-up of her 43-year marriage.
Elly’s journey as a homeless senior woman started 10 years ago when she returned home from two years of working in Asia as an English teacher to find her husband had sold her car to fund his drinking and gambling addictions.
Their family home was also about to be repossessed.
“I just packed up and left. I was distraught,” she said.
With limited savings and unable to find work because she was “too old” and “overqualified”, the mum-of-two got housesitting jobs and started studying for a second university degree. Eventually, sick of living out of suitcases, Elly rented a unit but the rent kept increasing at a rate that her pension didn’t.
In March this year Elly was approved for public housing east of Brisbane but she said the living situation was still not ideal.
“I feel like I’m being punished for being a woman and for being alive this late in life,” she said.
“There’s just no decent standard of living for older women.
“I have many friends who find normal housing unaffordable. It is not just my story – it is the stories of many women.
“Women with no personal support network don’t know who to turn to and where to get help.”
With the aim to provide older women with practical and relevant information on how to resolve their unique circumstances, the Trust have developed the Handy Guide for Older Women to be launched on August 5.
Since 2011, together with its partners, the Trust has developed and distributed the widely adopted Handy Guide for Homeless Women products.
This year, the guide has been developed specifically for older women who are facing homelessness or are anxious about their future housing.
Karen said the guide looks at the whole woman, not just their housing needs, and includes planning tools and a directory of services from health and wellbeing, training and employment.
“While it is for older women, it is also helpful for friends, family members and workers in services that connect with older women,” she said.
“The intent of the Handy Guide for Older Women is to educate women and encourage planning before a crisis emerges.”
The Trust will be congratulated at the launch on their work in developing the Guide by Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson, State Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni and Assistant Federal Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services Luke Howarth.
Over the next 12 months, the Guide will be put into the hands of tens of thousands of women over the age of 55.
For those sleeping rough, lockdown has made life more difficult than ever before. Businesses are closed. Public bathrooms are shut. Shelters are overflowing, with food donations and volunteer workers decreasing daily as people prioritise their own safety over helping others. Staying home, washing our hands and even social distancing are virus prevention measures we have taken for granted.
One organisation striving to combat this struggle is The Lady Musgrave Trust, Queensland’s oldest charity and a champion for homeless women. “Due to the pandemic, women don’t have as many choices,” says Karen Lyon Reid, CEO of The Lady Musgrave Trust.
After being told to ‘stay home’ for countless weeks, naturally, people are feeling cooped up. But for those who live in dangerous homes, this trapped feeling is a genuine, pressing threat. The UN Population Fund has projected that the global lockdown will result in 15 million more cases of domestic violence worldwide.
“They feel as if they have to stay in their current situation because they aren’t allowed to move due to restrictions. It’s hard for these women to research about where to go when you aren’t allowed to leave your house,” Ms Lyon Reid says.
“The intensity of these situations is beginning to ease with the easing of lockdown restrictions, but in the height of national lockdown, this issue was extremely problematic for women in those situations.”
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 42 percent of the clients of specialist homelessness services have experienced family and domestic violence, with this number expected to increase resultant of the number of reported cases.
For victims of domestic violence, many are forced to stay isolated with their abuser, causing an influx in reported cases and an increase in women seeking refuge and shelter. Unfortunately, it also means many survivors are deciding to return to their abuser, for fears that resource access is limited amid COVID-19.
“It’s more difficult for these women to live with their abusers, as people are in closer proximity with their partners and are drinking more,” Ms Lyon Reid says.
“The issue is being compounded and there’s less opportunities for these women to seek help or find places to stay – even hotels haven’t been open, so difficulty arises finding shelter and safety.”
The unemployment rate in Australia is estimated to increase to over 10 percent as a result of the pandemic. With such an increase in job loss nationwide, the potential for homelessness will be greater in many situations. Challenges for those already homeless have become more extreme, as they are exposed to more health risks, receive less help from volunteer organisations, and experience more difficulty seeking employment.
People who are homeless are more likely to contract respiratory diseases or have chronic health conditions that cause them to be susceptible to the virus. For these people who are among society’s most vulnerable, following the basic steps of virus prevention proves to be near impossible.
Properties such as those owned by The Lady Musgrave Trust help to aid people in escaping the dangers that come with sleeping rough during a global pandemic, but the resources owned by these charities aren’t capable of fully supporting the influx of people in need of their assistance while the funding remains the same as it was pre-pandemic.
“We provide accommodation to young women, so more funding to provide accommodation would allow us to assist more women,” says Ms Lyon Reid.
“As well as accommodation, we also produce our Handy Guide for Homeless Women in Brisbane. We print 16,000 physical copies of these each year, and we have already distributed all of these. More funding would mean we could have printed more of those, assisting more women in need.”
Women are most at risk of homelessness. Homeless people are the most at risk of contracting COVID-19. These intersecting vulnerabilities mean that now more than ever, people need to look past their privilege and help those who need it.
It will soon be easier for older women experiencing homelessness or at risk of being homeless in Queensland to navigate their way to a better life, as Eastern Star Foundation announces a $100,000 grant to The Lady Musgrave Trust.
The gap funding will help Queensland’s oldest charity to rollout the Ending Homelessness for Older Women project, which includes the development of a new website, that will be a central repository of information and resources for those seeking help. In addition, a minimum of 16,000 hardcopies of the new Handy Guide for Older Women will be produced and distributed throughout communities across the state.
A portion of the funding will also go towards their annual Women and Homelessness Forum which will focus on Older Women – Living on the Edge of Homelessness to be held on the 5th of August. Industry experts and stakeholders will get together to collaborate on ways to address this ever-growing social issue.
The Lady Musgrave Trust Chief Executive Officer Karen Lyon Reid said with an ageing population, now is the time to step up efforts in this area.
“We’re seeing the number of older homeless women rise, with a 31% increase since 2011,” Ms Lyon Reid said.
“The reasons why women face homelessness in their older years are many and varied, whether that’s due to a family breakdown or loss of a partner, domestic violence, poor mental and physical health, poverty or financial difficulties due to loss of employment and lack of superannuation.
“The common denominator is that many of these older women are experiencing or at risk of homelessness for the first time and don’t know where to turn for help or feel daunted when approaching support services that are tailored for those that have been homeless in the long-term.
“This funding will help us improve outcomes for this vulnerable group right across the state.”
Eastern Star Foundation Chairman Johnathan Nantes said this was one of three initiatives to be funded by organisation in its inaugural grant round, since becoming a charitable foundation last year. The group, which was formerly known as Star Aged Living and was established by members of the Order of the Eastern Star, operated a not-for-profit aged care facility in Beaudesert before it was sold to Whiddon Group early last year.
“Our new charitable focus is to empower those who enhance the quality of life for our ageing communities,” Mr Nantes said.
“Indeed, the initiative aligns with our key activities which includes support for older and elderly women suffering from financial and physical hardship.
“We are proud to partner with The Lady Musgrave Trust on this important initiative to help more older women lead dignified and independent lives.”
For media requests, please contact:
Eastern Star Foundation Karen Tilke, Marketing and Public Relations, 0408 086 390 or email@example.com
The Eastern Star (Australia) Foundation Ltd trading as Eastern Star Foundation Ph:07 3493 6093 | PO Box 1202, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 | ACN 166 950 321 | ABN 36 640 477 592