Sec, control and homelessness panel

Sex, control and homelessness: How do unhealthy sexual attitudes and behaviours begin?

By | Blog

Positively shaping sexual attitudes and behaviours is essential to building respectful relationships. But how do unhealthy behaviours begin, and what are the risks if we don’t take action?

Domestic and family violence is the primary reason women and children seek specialist homelessness services. That’s why the theme of The Lady Musgrave Trust 14th Annual Forum on Women & Homelessness was ‘The pathway to homelessness for women in Queensland – a story of coercive control, violence and systematic disadvantage’.

Domestic and family violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There are certain attitudes that lead to the use of violent and coercive behaviours – and these attitudes can start forming early.

In the first panel of this year’s Forum, our speakers discussed how pornography can help develop unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality at an early age – and the tragic impact that these unhealthy attitudes can have on relationships.

How does pornography influence attitudes towards sex and relationships?

Professor Melissa Bull, the Director of the QUT Centre for Justice, hosted the panel discussion. She began by citing an Our Watch report that identified nearly half (48 per cent) of young men have seen pornography by the age of 13, and nearly half (48 per cent) of young women by the age of 15.

“On average, young men are viewing pornography for the first time three years before they get into their first sexual relationship,” Professor Bull said. “So that’s where they learn about what they might think of as ‘intimacy’.”

The Our Watch report notes that pornography can influence young people’s views and attitudes at a time in their lives when they’re still developing an understanding about sex and sexual relationships. That’s of concern to those working to prevent violence against women and promote respectful relationships and gender equality, because research suggests pornography use can be associated with less progressive attitudes about gender roles, and a belief that women are sex objects.

“The young age of initial access, especially by boys, to content that’s violent and controlling; content that represents women in submissive stereotypes; and content that promotes highly risky practices, contributes to feeding unrealistic and even illegal expectations of many young people, long before they enter into relationships,” Professor Bull said.

“It shapes the way they think about intimacy. It impacts on their attitudes and expectations, particularly with regards to entitlement and the important matter of consent.”

Professor Bull said the increasing ease of access to pornography is also a factor.

“There has been a transformation,” she said. “When I started my career, I worked for the Australian Institute of Criminology. One of my tasks was to think about how to regulate pornography, which, back then, was in magazines and videos – and the Australian Classification Board used to look at everything. But enter the internet… and now it’s easy, it’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s borderless, it’s abundant, it’s unlimited and it’s unregulated. And so that presents challenges, particularly in relation to young people.”

Kerrin Bradfield, a clinical sexologist and Education and Engagement Coordinator for the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence, told the panel that pornography – in which women are often depicted as submissive and willing to comply with the demands of males – is impacting the way the young people she works with view consent.

“We work with young women from the age of 14 years and up at the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence, and we’re seeing a lot of young girls presenting with very adult experiences of sexual experiences,” she said.

“That’s been a big shift in the last five to 10 years. And what we’re seeing in that space, in our work with these young women, is that there’s real confusion around where the line is, and what actually constitutes enthusiastic consent.

“It’s a complication that pornography certainly plays a role in. Pornography does tend to have a very predictable and homogenous script, where violence is met with pleasure, or at best, a neutral response, from the recipient of that violence. So when people are soaked in that narrative and that sexual script, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to put a name to their own experience.

“They might say, ‘Oh, what happened to me wasn’t that bad’, or ‘I don’t really qualify to access a service like this’, instead of seeing that any violation of their boundaries, any crossing of their consent and limitations, should actually be viewed and should be identified as non-consensual. That it was a form of violence and harm.”

Sheryl Batchelor, the Founder of Yiliyapina Indigenous Corporation, pointed out that young minds are particularly susceptible to outside influences.

“There are certain critical times,” she said. “What really concerns me about that 10-14 age group is that’s when neuroplasticity is like a sponge – it’s the time when we can make the most difference.”

How do attitudes towards sex and relationships influence the path towards domestic and family violence?

The Our Watch report notes that there are four expressions of gender inequality that consistently predict higher rates of violence against women – also known as ‘drivers’ of violence against women:

  • Rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
  • Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life
  • Condoning of violence against women
  • Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women

The report notes that pornography use has been shown to have an impact on subsequent attitudes regarding gender roles and relationships, and men’s use of sexually aggressive behaviours.

“This, then, leads into the development of acceptance of coercive behaviours,” Professor Bull told the panel.

“We still live in a society where women and men are not equal. As long as this is the case, women will disproportionately find themselves in controlling relationships – and if they leave, the price is homelessness.”

Kerrin Bradfield added that it’s important for people to understand the link between sexual violence and homelessness.

“Homelessness is both a cause and a consequence of sexual violence,” she said. “For young women who have experiences of intimate partner sexual violence; who have had childhood sexual abuse perpetrated in their home; or sexual violence perpetrated by someone they live with, this often leads them to sleep rough, to put them at risk of homelessness, or to force them to move into unsafe transitional sharehousing.

“These forms of accommodation that lack safety are then, in and of themselves, often a cause of further experiences of victimisation and sexual violence.

“We know that vulnerability is intersectional. It’s a complex melting pot that pornography is a part of, but we need to look at the broader picture as well.”

How can we encourage healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships?

The Our Watch report notes that the influence of pornography on young people isn’t uniform – it’s moderated by individual characteristics and circumstances, and affected by a broader cultural context, which means it’s just one risk factor among many others for the development of unhealthy attitudes and behaviours.

“There are a lot of people who watch pornography who don’t equate intimacy with violence,” Bradfield said. “We’re looking at a subset of people who already have attitudes that are disrespectful; that represent inequality; that are supportive of violence against women; and align closely with those drivers of gender-based violence. Those people are then watching pornography and being emboldened in these pre-existing attitudes and beliefs.

“So when we look at younger people who may still be forming those attitudes, a lot of contextual factors come into play. It could be the absence of solid role models throughout a search for identity in developmental years.

“It could be the complete lack of sexual education – a lack of discussion around sexuality and education about sex as pleasure-based, as equal, as mutual. Those things are missing, which allows pornography to become the loudest voice in the room. The absence of any other information gives pornography a platform to speak to young people in their formative years.

“There’s a multi-directional relationship between holding violence-supportive attitudes; watching pornography; and the pornography itself becoming more disrespectful and more violent, reinforcing those attitudes. It’s a back-and-forth relationship… but when we look at where these attitudes come from, they start early.

“There is an increasing difficulty with young people whose entire developmental experience has been influenced by pornography, as well as social media and a society in general that has become much more sexualised. We’re increasingly seeing the commodification of female pleasure for male pleasure… and that’s being reinforced by TikTok, by Instagram, by all these forms of media that have something to say to young people that they should be hearing from trusted adults.

“It’s not young people’s fault that pornography and the online world have become their only source of sexual education – they just don’t have better options.”

Australian Federal Police Commander Hilda Sirec, who works with the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, said the “hyper-sexuality” of media is encouraging children to “self-generate” exploitation material .

“There’s a desentistation about what’s appropriate to send online,” she said, “and that’s driving children and young people to generate and send their own exploitative material.”

Commander Sirec encouraged parents to be aware of what their children are doing online, and the kind of material they’re being exposed to.

“Life is synonymous with being online,” she said. “We’re not going to get away from that. But research shows that only 52 per cent of parents and carers actually know about online safety, and know what their children are doing online. So I would just ask that instead of asking how your child’s day went, ask them how their day went online. You need to know what’s happening there.”

Ultimately, of course, the blame for sexual violence must fall on the perpetrators – regardless of what influenced their attitudes.

“We need to hold perpetrators to account,” Bradfield told the panel. “I think we know that most of them are serial offenders, and they have multiple victims. The sooner we can interrupt that pattern and hold them to account, the better the outcome will be.”

From Nowhere To Go to Know Where To Go: The Lady Musgrave Trust and Small Steps 4 Hannah launch online Handy Guide for Queensland women in need

By | Blog, Homelessness, News | No Comments

The Lady Musgrave Trust, Queensland’s oldest charity and champion for homeless women, has partnered with Small Steps 4 Hannah to launch an online information and service directory for Queensland women in need.

Speaking at The Lady Musgrave Trust’s 14th Annual Forum for Women and Homelessness, held at QUT Gardens Point Campus, Small Steps 4 Hannah Founders Sue and Lloyd Clarke said the online Handy Guide will connect women with the support and services they need to escape domestic violence and find safety.

The murder of Sue and Lloyd’s daughter Hannah Clarke, and their grandchildren Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey, shocked the world in February 2020 and has become a ‘line in the sand’ moment for domestic violence in Australia.

“If Hannah had something like the online Handy Guide, it would have been so helpful for her,” Sue Clarke told attendees at the Forum.

“She didn’t know where to go. She didn’t know where to look. She didn’t know what to do… if she’d have had access to a one-stop shop like this website, it would have been invaluable.”

The Lady Musgrave Trust, which helps Queensland women and their children get back on their feet and find safe and secure housing, has been producing physical copies of The Handy Guide since 2009.

In that time, it has become an indispensable service directory for at-risk women and their children, and an important resource for governments, hospitals and not-for-profit organisations.

The Trust received funding from theSmall Steps 4 Hannah Foundation and the Queensland Community Foundation, which contributed to the costs of developing an online version of the Handy Guide – making this essential resource even more readily available and accessible.

Louise Kelly, President of The Lady Musgrave Trust, said the online Handy Guide will provide help for women when they need it most.

“The online Handy Guide will provide knowledge, and therefore power, to women who may have thought they had lost their power and had nowhere to go,” Ms Kelly said. “And that will make women safer.”

Ms Kelly said The Lady Musgrave Trust will continue to print and distribute physical copies of the Handy Guide.

“It will continue to evolve alongside the online version,” she said. “Regardless of if you’re using the online version or the hard copy, we want this to be an accessible platform for women to be connected to the services they need.”

Held to coincide with Homelessness Week (1-7 August), The Lady Musgrave Trust’s Annual Forum for Women and Homelessness brings together representatives from the Queensland Government and organisations across the homelessness sector to collaborate on making Queensland the country’s safest state for women.

The theme of this year’s event, held in person and viewable live online, was ‘The pathway to homelessness for women in Queensland – a story of coercive control, violence and systemic disadvantage’.

“We weren’t aware of coercive control,” Sue Clarke said. “We saw the consequences, we saw the damage it did, but we didn’t know it had a name. We wanted to help start the conversation, and help everyone to understand what coercive control was.”

At any one time there are more than 10,000 women in Queensland who are experiencing homelessness, a number that is believed to be underreported.

Domestic and family violence is the primary reason women and children seek specialist homelessness services, which is why The Lady Musgrave Trust remains active after 137 years in helping find women and their children a home to shelter and live their lives in security and safety.

“On the one hand, it’s wonderful that The Lady Musgrave Trust is 137 years old and still going strong,” The Lady Musgrave Trust CEO Victoria Parker told attendees at today’s forum.

“On the other hand, it’s a tragedy that The Trust is still necessary.”

The online Handy Guide, created by The Lady Musgrave Trust with support from Small Steps 4 Hannah and Queensland Community Foundation, can be viewed now at

Donate to The Lady Musgrave Trust at

Karen speaking at the Forum

Karen Lyon Reid retires after six years as the head of The Lady Musgrave Trust

By | Blog, News

After more than half a decade of service, our CEO Karen Lyon Reid has retired from The Lady Musgrave Trust.

Karen served as CEO of The Lady Musgrave Trust for the past six years, and was on the board prior to that. We would like to recognise and thank Karen for her service and commitment to fighting women’s homelessness and improving the lives of young women in Queensland.

“Karen has been an exceptional leader of The Lady Musgrave Trust for many years, first as a Director and then as CEO,” The Lady Musgrave Trust President Louise Kelly says. “She has put her heart and soul into ensuring that The Lady Musgrave Trust is able to continue providing accommodation and services to women in QLD who are at risk of homelessness.

We acknowledge Karen’s leadership and commitment to helping women in need. During this time she has been a true guardian of the legacy of The Lady Musgrave Trust.

Over this six years, the Trust has:

  • Purchased 11 units to provide accommodation for women and their children in crisis
  • Produced and distributed 60,000+ Handy Guides for Queensland women in need
  • Secured funding for, developed and distributed The Handy Guide for Older Women
  • Secured funding for and began developing a Handy Guide for women experiencing domestic and family violence
  • Secured funding for and worked towards the digitisation of the Handy Guides for multiple audiences
  • Managed annual fundraising events, as well as the Annual Forum for Women and Homelessness, which pivoted to a national online event in 2021

Karen at the Cocktail Party with Keystone representative

Karen’s work was driven by the impact The Lady Musgrave Trust could have on women in the community.

“It has been a pleasure continually developing the Trust, along with the Board, to make a difference to a woman’s life,” she says. “To change their path, so they can lead a healthier and happier life.”

“I would like to thank all of those who supported myself and the Trust over the years and those who worked closely with me to achieve what we did.”

Stepping into the role as CEO is Victoria Parker. Before joining the Lady Musgrave Trust, Victoria managed her own consultancy specialising in social impact and community engagement, with a particular focus on community, family, and housing-related clients. Over the last five years Victoria has played a leadership role in several flagship community-focused projects, including Logan Together – one of Australia’s largest child and family development programs.

Victoria has until recently served as the Chair of the Lady Bowen Trust, a charitable trust that helps Queenslanders find safe and stable housing. She is looking forward to pouring her skills, experience, and energy into achieving the vision of The Lady Musgrave Trust.

While we are sad to see Karen go, we wish her the best for her next chapter, and we’re sure she’ll bring the same winning approach to her future endeavours that she brought to The Lady Musgrave Trust.

LMT and Small Steps for Hannah

“The Lady Musgrave Trust thank Karen for her service and wish her all the best in her retirement,” Louise says.

Thank you, Karen.

Four students from Cannon Hill Anglican College

Cannon Hill Anglican College students choose The Lady Musgrave Trust for fundraising events

By | Blog

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.

LMT and Small Steps for Hannah

Small Steps 4 Hannah helps The Lady Musgrave Trust put vital assistance at the fingertips of women in Queensland

By | Blog

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.

Take the survey here.

Karen Lyon Reid and Allison McKelvie at North Harbour's Songs of Twilight event

North Harbour: Our first development partner!

By | Blog, News

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.

leigh muirhead and karen lyon reid at the 2021 annual forum

Wrap Up: The 2021 Annual Forum on Women & Homelessness – Seize the Momentum

By | Blog, Homelessness

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.”

Watch The Hon. Minster Leeane Enoch’s full message

Where to go to get support

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.

Jump online now to pre-order the 2021/2022 Handy Guide for Brisbane and Regional Queensland, with shipping commencing in October 2021.

Copies of The Handy Guide for Older Women, which was launched at last year’s Annual Forum, are still available to order. You can also sign up for our Housing Journey For Older Women Workshops for women over 55 who are looking for innovative housing solutions.

Watch the update from Karen Lyon Reid

The scale of Queensland’s housing crisis

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.”

Aimee also introduced The Town Of Nowhere campaign, “Queensland’s 5th largest town that you never want to visit.”

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.

Watch Aimee McVeigh’s full presentation

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.”

Watch Christine Castley’s full presentation

The leading housing innovations across Canada

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?”

Watch Anne-Marie’s Robert’s full presentation

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.”

Watch Dr. Alina Turner’s full presentation
Watch the Medicine Hat Systems Transformation Project Video

Scaling as an initiative, not a “cut and paste”

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.“

Watch Jenny & Rachel’s full chat

Sharing With Friends, a co-housing initiative

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

Watch the full Sharing with Friends story and check out the ABC news story as well

A unique ownership structure

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.”

Watch the full discussion with Emma Telfer

Opportunities for women in construction

Our final speakers were from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Operating for 25 years, NAWIC continues to advocate and close the gaps across all roles that females operate, making sure women are getting the same opportunities as men.

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.”

Watch the full discussion with Sheree & Radmila from NAWIC

Thanks to everyone involved for making this event so successful. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

Patricia McCormack in front of a The Lady Musgrave Trust banner

A fond farewell and thank you, Patricia

By | Blog, News

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.”

patricia mccormack and louise kelly

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.

Thank you, Patricia.

Why Christmas brings a spike in domestic violence against women

By | Blog, Homelessness

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).

Helen Poynten, Regional Manager of Relationships Australia Queensland says there are several reasons why incidents of DFV spike over the Christmas season.

“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.”

sad woman looking out curtains

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.

The Lady Musgrave Trust are currently in the middle of their Christmas fundraising appeal. You can help by buying a raffle ticket or making a donation.

Blue house on quiet street

Queensland’s oldest charity launches much-needed guide to empower alarming number of older women facing homelessness in the state

By | Blog, Homelessness

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.

It can also be ordered online at