International Women’s Day is a significant date for St Bart’s as we work towards our goal of ensuring every woman at risk of homelessness has a place to call home.
Recently celebrated on March 8, the official theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual and the call to action is for all of us to stand up for women’s right to equality, safety, opportunities and resources through empowerment and the breaking down of bias, poverty and disadvantage.
The Western Australian Government just launched Stronger Together: WA’s Plan for Gender Equality, as part of International Women’s Day. The framework will encourage government, business and the community to take action to ensure every girl and woman in WA has the opportunity to fulfil her potential.
Sadly, older women are the fastest growing cohort of people experiencing homelessness in Australia today – a fact that we are acutely aware of at St Bart’s as an increasing number of older women seek out our services.
Not only do relationship breakdowns, ill health and high rents contribute to homelessness amongst both men and women in Australia, domestic violence and workplace gender inequality play key roles in how many women find themselves without a home. Disturbingly, census data revealed that WA has the highest gender pay gap in Australia with a 21.8 per cent difference in what women are paid to men compared to 14 per cent across Australia.
There has been progress towards equality, but more can always be done to ensure our State doesn’t risk being left behind. We need to be focused on harnessing the talent and potential of every member of the community.
Here at St Bart’s, we celebrate, honour and continue to advocate for the women we assist. The only transitional service of its kind in Perth, our 32-bed Women’s Service facility provides safe, supported accommodation so that women can address the causes of their homelessness, regain their independence, and reconnect to their community and other support services.
Case management and community support, much of it provided by our wonderful volunteers, as well as a range of community support services, help these women achieve their goals. When they are ready to transition back into stable housing and re-establish a home in the community, our BHP-funded Reconnecting Lives Program provides wrap-around services to support them to manage in their new environment and reduce the risk of a return to homelessness.
For more information on International Women’s Day, visit internationalwomensday.com.