There is one issue that has been universally ignored in this election campaign by the major parties and the independents. That is, the social crisis engulfing women aged 50+. These women make up 30% of the female population in Australia, but they constitute the majority on Jobseeker, the majority of those who are locked out of the workforce by ageism and the majority of the homeless. There were over 400,000 older women already homeless or at risk of homelessness. Now, with the CPI at 5.1%, tens of thousands more will become homeless as they give up trying to survive on the obscenely inadequate amount of Jobseeker at $46 p.d.
Then there are the tens of thousands of unemployed women aged 50 plus who do not even appear in the much lauded 4% unemployment figure. This is because they have given up applying for work. After an endless number of rejections, they know that most employers practice age discrimination and will not even consider hiring them.
And yet, it is not an election issue. The Government won’t raise the rate of Jobseeker or build social housing. The Opposition under Anthony Albanese refuses to commit to raising Jobkeeper, and its plans for social housing provide very little housing for older women. The newly announced home ownership scheme Help to Buy will only help those with the money to pay 2% deposit and it is limited to 10,000 people.
The silence of the teal independents on this issue is extremely disappointing. Particularly since most of them are 50-ish women. As candidates, they share common goals on climate change, ICAC and the safety and equality of women. But somehow, they totally overlook the welfare of older women. I have yet to hear any of them speak out on this issue.
Never before have so many Australian women over 50 been so destitute. It isn’t an oversight. It is a failure to see. These women are invisible to the rest of society. Their dire predicament barely registers on the national political consciousness.
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