What we are talking about…

Dr. Lowitja O’Donoghue: Against All Odds

We need to take the time to reflect on the heroism of Dr. Lowitja O’Donoghue who passed away on 4 February aged 91.

Consider the odds against her.

She was stolen from her Aboriginal mother when she was only two years old in 1932.
Lowitja was stolen from her siblings and her extended family.
Her identity was stolen from her when she was forcibly placed in a mission home, her name anglicised.
Her heritage and her culture were stolen from her as she was prohibited from speaking her own language and removed from contact with her mother or with any Indigenous community.
Her agency was stolen from her as she was left alone and powerless.
Her education and prospects were stolen from her as she was trained for a life of servitude.
Her sense of self worth was stolen from her as she was repeatedly told by the matron of the home that she would never amount to anything.

And yet.

Against impossible odds, Lowitja O’Donoghue took her place as a truly great Australian woman.
February 9, 2024/by Augustine Zycher

Why Is The Israel-Hamas War Different From Other Wars?

The Hamas-Israel war that began on October 7 2023 is a war different from other wars in the modern era. It is a war in which women are a strategic target.  It is a war spearheaded by sexual violence. Female casualties are not ‘collateral damage’, the unintended consequences of war. They were designated by Hamas as military and political objectives.

Since Hamas launched its assault on Israel on October 7, it has succeeded in winning multiple victories despite not winning any military victory.

Its victories stem from its use and abuse of women.

Israel’s losses stem in part from its failure to listen to women.
January 21, 2024/by Augustine Zycher
Press Conference of Families of Israeli Hostages on Day 59 of the War. "Time has run out for the hostages - they have no time left, no food and no air".

The Power of the People

October 7th had a transformative impact on Israeli society. But it was probably not the impact that Hamas had intended when it launched its meticulously planned massacre of 1200 Israeli civilians and the taking of 240 hostages. A key element of the Hamas plan was the assault on Israeli women and girls. “The torture of women was weaponized to destroy communities, to destroy a people, to destroy a nation,” said Cochav Elkayam Levy, the head of a nongovernmental commission investigating crimes of murder, rape, sexual atrocities, beheading and mutilation perpetrated by Hamas. 

But instead of destroying a nation, it unleashed a dramatic upsurge in ‘the power of the people’ civic activism and an intensification of solidarity amongst Israelis. 
December 5, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

The Moral Clarity of Marcia Langton

Indigenous leader, Professor Marcia Langton, has expressed once again the moral clarity at the core of courageous leadership in her article on the Hamas-Israeli war.

“ The loss of thousands of lives in Gaza is unjustifiable. I condemn Hamas. I am horrified and deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the Levant, the Israelis who were murdered and kidnapped by Hamas and the innocent Palestinians who are being used as human shields by Hamas.

As an Indigenous Australian, I can have little effect in stopping these horrors but it is necessary to be clear about a few matters.

'Blak sovereignty' advocates have entwined two extraordinary propositions - one that is simply untrue and one that is a moral outrage.

Our Jewish and Palestinian communities deserve respect and compassion. "
November 17, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

The Sophisticated Strategy of Barbarism

The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th, had been meticulously planned for over a year. It was the expression of a sophisticated strategy designed to implement barbarism as a means of achieving Hamas’ political goals. The primary goal of Hamas, as part of  the regional alliance led by Iran and its other proxies Hezbollah and the Houthis, is to bring permanent war to all Israel’s borders in order to " annihilate Israel ".   

The timing was targeted to shatter a trilateral deal between the U.S, Saudi Arabia and Israel to normalise relations and change the face of the Middle East. 

There are 5 key elements to the Hamas strategy of barbarism.
November 9, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Older Women – Targets of Hamas

Never before have I had to tell the stories of older women designated as targets for terrorism and hostage taking. This is what happened in Israel on October 7th. Older women were not the only target of Hamas, but they were a deliberate target.

There were many older Israeli women amongst the 1,400 massacred on that day. There are also many older women amongst the estimated 250 hostages Hamas took to Gaza. Whole groups of 80 year-olds were abducted.

The New York Times reported that Hamas documents at the scenes of the massacres revealed that it was a meticulously planned assault with precisely designated targets. The objective of the heavily armed Hamas militia was not to battle with Israeli soldiers. It was to kill as many civilians as possible, in their homes and at the music festival, and take large numbers as hostages.
October 19, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Whose Intergenerational Tragedy?

It is hard to forget the cries of “intergenerational tragedy” that greeted the latest Intergenerational Report released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers. The lively reaction to a potential “tragedy” in Australia in 40 years time stands in sharp contrast to the failure to deal with Australia’s present generational tragedy unfolding in real time.

The problem is not just the alarmist nature of the IGR with regard to the ageing population. It is that the IGR reflects the ageist thinking of governments and society in general. Older generations are seen as a threat to national wellbeing. They are calculated as a national liability and an unbearable burden on future budgets.

The countries that will be the most successful with ‘generational change’ will be the ones that provide the best integration and opportunities for older people. Put that in an Intergenerational Report, Treasurer.
September 13, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Mutual Obligations & Women

'Mutual obligations’ imposed on jobseekers are a rank misuse of public funds, ineffectual, and crippling in their consequences. The majority of those on Jobseeker are women aged over 50, so ‘mutual obligations’ affect them most.

Rick Morton of The Saturday Paper disclosed that outsourced employment services providers are funnelling more than $40 million a year “in government funding earmarked for jobseekers through their own companies, related entities and labour-hire outfits, creating paper empires out of their impoverished clients.”
August 28, 2023/by Augustine Zycher
Professor-Lyn-Slater-Accidental-Icon

999 Names for an Old Woman

Google offers over 999 words to describe an old woman, and they are uniformly pejorative. The top 4 are: “ distressingly ancient; squat and dumpy; dismal and lonesome; insanely suicidal.”

Some common names for old women are: old bag, granny, biddy, crone, hag, witch, harridan, bedlam, old bat, old boiler. And if that’s not bad enough, you can also resort to descriptions such as: “withered and bitter; almost well-dressed; unnaturally lusty; crazy and uncanny; entirely uninteresting; exceptionally invaluable.”

What’s in a name, you may ask. The answer is – a minefield. Language reflects and reinforces prejudice and discrimination and has terrible consequences. Arguably, there is a direct link between this gendered ageism and the social crisis that Australian older women are now experiencing. It is a multi-faceted crisis that is distinctive to this demographic. It negatively affects their employment, housing, livelihood, and mental and physical health. Older women are ending up on the dust heap of the nation's economy.
August 21, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

The Politics of Wellbeing

We need to discuss the politics of ‘wellbeing’. Australia has a low level of unemployment and yet never before have there been so many Australians hungry and homeless. Each month an additional 1,600 people become homeless. Never before has an unprecedented number of Australians depended on food banks and been unable to afford essentials. Yet research shows Australians are working some of the longest hours of employees anywhere in the world.

The just released report on homelessness recognises that ”older low-income earners, particularly those on fixed government benefits, experience more homelessness."

It reports that the scale of housing insecurity amongst older people aged 55+ in Australia is "significant and growing". At least 270,000 people are already homeless or at risk of homelessness, most of them older women.

In this context, the Treasurer Jim Chambers recently produced what he called the Government’s first ‘Wellbeing Budget’.
August 13, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

The Voice and the Elders

The theme of NAIDOC 2023 was ‘ For Our Elders’. This theme highlights the connection between the Voice and the Elders and underscores the compelling reasons why we must vote 'Yes' in the referendum.

The Elders are the custodians of Indigenous heritage, culture and knowledge handed down from one generation of Elders to another. They have ensured the survival of the oldest Indigenous peoples in the world for 65,000 years. Elders are respected, honoured and listened to by the community.

But current statistics about Elders are very worrying. The ‘gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy stands at around 15 years.

Remarkably, it appears that even in official documents there are two categories of Older Australians.

No Australian Government is equiped to close the gap without meaningful, informed consultations with the Voice, and that means listening to the Elders.
July 13, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Formula of Women’s Poverty

We can now design a formula of women’s poverty to predict the likelihood of women ageing into poverty. The key variables of this formula are: gender pay gap, financial loss due to unpaid care, and age discrimination.

For the first time, we are now able to estimate the lifetime earnings that women lose as a result of caregiving. These can amount to almost $AUD 500,000. This is what unpaid caregiving for children and parents costs women over the course of their careers in pay and promotion, and cuts to their retirement savings, according to a first-of-its-kind report by the U.S. Department of Labor.

We can extrapolate that the figures would be roughly comparable in Australia. This loss of anywhere up to half a million dollars in earnings, helps us to understand why women are ageing into poverty and homelessness. It provides us with the missing piece in designing a formula exposing the probability of women ageing into poverty.
June 29, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

When Julia Child met Betty Friedan

There is an excellent TV series ‘Julia’ now streaming about Julia Child, the multi-award winning American chef. With a first-rate cast led by Sarah Lancashire as Julia and an intelligent script, the series focuses on Julia’s battle to put her cooking show on American television in 1963.

From our perspective today this doesn’t appear to be a big deal. But it was. Remember, feminism didn’t really become a major movement until the late 1960s and 1970s. Before that, women were pressured not to enter the workforce if they had someone to support them, not to enter the universities and not to pursue careers. 
June 5, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Budget 2023 & Older Women

One of the distinctive features of Budget 2023 was that for the first time there was recognition that women aged 55+ on Jobseeker had little in savings and little chance of finding work. This was a meaningful step towards recognising that older women in the workforce face distinctive problems. However, Treasurer Jim Chalmers chose to award them only $6 p.d. extra in their Jobseeker payment. Not enough to lift them above the poverty line or out of homelessness.

Government needs to recognise that there is a social crisis that directly affects the present generation of older women and will most likely affect future generations of women. Government needs to formulate an holistic, targeted strategy and measures to address this crisis as rapidly escalating numbers of women continue to fall off the cliff.
May 22, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Jobseeker is a Feminist Issue

It is time we recognised that Jobseeker is a feminist issue. More specifically, it is an older women’s issue. Being on Jobseeker is the legacy of a lifetime of gender discrimination. Jobseeker is also where women land when gender discrimination fuses with age discrimination.

For some years now, women  aged 50+ have constituted the majority of those on Jobseeker. They are also on it for the longest periods - often 5 years or more.

They are dependent on Jobseeker not because they are ‘bludgers’ or social parasites. Quite the contrary. Most have spent their adults lives working - either paid employment or unpaid work at home. They are stuck on Jobseeker because almost half of Australian employers won’t employ older people, especially older women, according to an AHRC report.
April 24, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Voyages of Discovery

When Michelle Lee rowed solo for 240 days and crossed 14,000 kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, she not only shattered a world record for women. She also shook the stereotype of older women.

Society assigns us diminishing capabilities as we age, and also diminishing value.

Women like Michelle inspire us to challenge these stereotypes. Clearly, few of us can row around the world and overcome 5 hurricanes, 4 cyclones and a shark leaping into the boat. But as Michelle said, the most important factor that carried her through, was her mental strength.
April 12, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Numbers of Homeless Older Women: How Accurate are the Statistics?

The ABS recently released its latest homelessness estimates based on the census of 10 August 2021.

It is necessary to question the current accuracy of these figures regarding the numbers of older women who are homeless.

First, the ABS says that “The rate of homelessness for people aged over 55 decreased from 29 people per 10,000 in 2016 to 26 people per 10,000 in 2021.” 

This census was taken prior to the 11 interest rate rises and the spiralling cost of living over the last year. We know that there has been a massive increase, not a decrease, in the numbers of older women who cannot afford to pay rent or their mortgages. 
March 27, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

First Nations Women Leaders

On International Women's Day 2023, WomanGoingPlaces would like to acknowledge the remarkable First Nations women leaders who have been spearheading the campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum to enshrine the Indigenous Voice in the Constitution. In the process, they have been forging an alliance of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to change Australian history.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
March 8, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Vote ‘Yes’ in the Referendum

WomanGoingPlaces wholeheartedly endorses a ‘Yes’ vote in favour of the enshrinement of a Voice for First Peoples in the Australian Constitution.

We cannot forget, erase or provide meaningful restitution for the injustices committed against the Indigenous peoples of Australia over the last 235 years. But by voting 'Yes', we will finally be empowering Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to change the present and improve the future for First Peoples.

It is time for Australia to enshrine the Voice of First Peoples in our Constitution.

A 'Yes' vote in the referendum is right, it is just and it is irrefutable.
March 2, 2023/by Augustine Zycher
Image from 'Older people’xperiences of the Ukraine war_Report Summary'

Older Women More at Risk in Ukraine War

Some of the most difficult images of the Ukraine war have been of older women, trapped helpless in their beds in bombed out homes. Women left alone without family, or left by their families because they were unable to flee to safety in other countries.

It has been described as the oldest humanitarian crisis in the world with 24% of Ukraine's 8.9 million population over 60 years old.

Significantly, the first nationally representative report has been released about older people in the Ukraine war. It is based on a survey held as recently as December 2022. Some of its key findings are that older women are more at risk than older men. It found that older women are facing greater financial difficulties and barriers to accessing essential goods and assistance.
February 28, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

‘See No Covid, Hear No Covid, Speak No Covid’

Between 20,000 to 25,000 Australians died from Covid in 2022, according to Professor Brendan Crabb AC Director & CEO of the Burnet Institute.

“These people would have lived if not for COVID. The scale of the tragedy is enormous. And the silence deafening.”

An Australian is now dying every 30 minutes from Covid.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the State Premiers have been silent about the alarming death toll from Covid. No emergency National Cabinet meeting has been held. No public health statements or measures have been announced. No reports or accurate official information about deaths and illness have been made public.

Both the Federal and State Governments have adopted a ‘ See No Covid, Hear No Covid and Speak No Covid’ policy.
January 22, 2023/by Augustine Zycher

Ageist Budget Leaves Older Women Out

Budget 2022-2023 has been presented as a budget for women. Certainly if you are a woman with young children, you will benefit from the welcome changes to childcare and parental leave. But if you are a woman over the age of 50, you are as invisible to this Labor Australian Government as to the previous LNP Government.

There is a fundamental failure of Government to see the major social crisis specifically affecting the demographic of women aged 50+.

The Women’s Budget Statement lists women’s economic equality as one of its 3 key themes. The Budget quite correctly goes into detail about the ‘motherhood penalty’ on work, income and advancement. But there is nothing about the ‘age penalty’ for women.
November 3, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

The 50 Over 50

Forbes ’The 50 Over 50’, is a list of women who have become successful and powerful after the age of 50, with some even in their nineties.

Why is it important to publish such a list?
Because one in two people in the world hold ageist views according to UN figures.
Because the older a woman becomes, the more she is devalued.

This deprecation and depreciation of women as we age, is also deeply entrenched in the English language.

Not every woman can realise the extraordinary success and achievements of many of the women in these Forbes lists. But they can recognise that the debasement of older women is based on lies. They can also recognise that this prejudice is destructive to them individually, and they can reject it.
October 16, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Jobs Summit Fails to Address High Unemployment of Women 50+

It is a matter of great concern that the high rate of unemployment of women aged 50 to 66 was not addressed at the Jobs and Skills Summit 2022. The Summit did not address the key barriers facing older women without small children.

Why did it not look at women over 50+ locked out of the workforce by the impenetrable barrier of ageism? Older women face greater barriers and more discrimination than older men. Ageism combines in a toxic mix with sexism to diminish older women’s value even further and reduce their likelihood of employment.

No discussion of these issues during the Summit and no mention in the published 36 Outcomes of the Summit.
September 5, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Jobs and Skills Summit – 4 Questions

There is a direct causal link between a woman’s age in Australia and her likelihood of becoming unemployed and homeless.
The Australian Government is to hold a Jobs and Skills Summit in September.
WomanGoingPlaces puts 4 Questions to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and key Ministers.

1. Why is this crisis that is engulfing Australian women aged 50+ not on the agenda of the Jobs & Skills Summit?
2. Will the Jobs and Skills Summit address the workforce experience of women aged 50+ and present programs to provide them with training where required?
3. Will the Government recognise at the Jobs and Skills Summit that the amount the Government pays in Jobseeker is a direct cause of the impoverishment of older women and will it immediately raise the rate?
4. Will the Government use the Jobs and Skills Summit to announce emergency changes to WorkForce Australia?
August 14, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Government Integrity – It’s Not Just About Money

If an ICAC into the Morrison Government is established, it will examine its handling of public funds.
But the integrity of a government has to be measured by more than an investigation into money.
The integrity of a government must also be measured by the way it governs,
and whether it governs in the public interest and serves the common good.

By this measure, the LNP Government under Scott Morrison corrupted its mandate to govern in the national interest.

It did so by dividing the nation into adversarial camps and favouring one camp over the other.
At the same time, it shrank the mandate of government and divested itself of its Constitutional responsibilities.
June 12, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Election Issue Universally Ignored

There is one election issue that has been universally ignored by the major parties and the independents in this election campaign. 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. 
May 5, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Lollies Instead of A Living

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in Budget 2022 is handing out lollies when millions of Australians, despite being employed, are losing their ability to feed, clothe, house and support their families and themselves. Trumpeting about unprecedented unemployment figures is meaningless when wages have gone backwards, work has been casualised and employment is defined as working just a few hours per week. Over 60% of those dependent for food on OzHarvest are actually employed.
March 30, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Not True

Recently, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg claimed that women were “ better off under the Coalition”. 
This is not true.
The LNP Government has presided over one of the worst social crises ever to unfold in Australia.

The final ignominy is that just as older women are invisible in society, so too are they invisible to the Federal Government of Australia. There is no acknowledgement that the economic insecurity and social exclusion of women aged 50+ is a rapidly escalating social crisis in Australia.
February 18, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

Unseen Power of Women 50+ in the Next Election

The good news is that both parties now recognise that winning the women’s vote will be the crucial factor in winning the upcoming federal elections. Describing it as “pink-vis” instead of “hi-vis", David Speers host of ABC Insiders, makes a good case for this in a recent article.

But the bad news is that Speers speaks mainly about young mothers in the 20-45 age group in marginal seats. He says that the parties know that “young women are more willing to shift their vote than older women or men.”

And with that he dismisses further discussion of the votes of older women.

Not so fast, Mr Speers.
January 11, 2022/by Augustine Zycher

50-ish Women

It’s a fairly innocuous sentence, but it reveals a completely different perception of women.

“There is a tendency when you are a 50-year-old (ish) woman, when you are given a mess, to say ‘just give it to me, I’ll fix it up’, “ said Dr. Monique Ryan, Voices of Kooyong candidate. She was speaking about the growing number of 50-ish women becoming independent candidates for the upcoming federal election.

It is the first time we have seen women of this age, as a group, leading the charge to transform Australian politics. These women are putting themselves forward in order to exercise the levers of power. This is at odds with the usual perception of 50-ish women. 
December 31, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Season’s Greetings

Dear Supporters of WomanGoingPlaces social enterprise,

We would like to wish you a lovely Christmas and Season's Greeting.

We hope that 2022 will be a year of good health and much joy for you.

Thank you for supporting WomanGoingPlaces to campaign for the economic security and social inclusion of women aged 50+.
December 24, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Women Excluded from Work

Australia has a massive reservoir of skilled labour that is being increasingly excluded from work - women aged 45 and over.

At the same time we are being bombarded with increasingly desperate headlines about the unprecedented labour shortage facing Australia. The Morrison Government has rushed to announce that over 200,000 temporary visa holders would begin arriving as soon as December.
November 24, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Iris Apfel Aged 100 on Harper’s Bazaar Cover

We women over 50 have to be like Iris Apfel.
Refuse to be invisible.
Refuse to accept the crippling stereotypes society imposes on us.
Affirm our value and proclaim our stories.
This is who we are.
This is what we have done and will continue to do.
Just watch!
October 7, 2021/by Augustine Zycher
WGP Collage - Women Change Australian Media v2(1)

Women Journalists Change Australian Media

In 1972 when Caroline Jones became the first female head of 4 Corners, the headlines screamed: 'Girl will take over 4 Corners', and 'Brains now, beauty next'.

It has taken half a century to develop a critical mass of women journalists to fundamentally change the media in Australia. 

There is now an outstanding coterie of experienced, veteran, senior female journalists in mainstream media who have not only distinguished themselves but also changed the national debate.

Oh, and female journalists are now called women and not girls.
September 1, 2021/by Augustine Zycher
Batman

MOVE OVER BATMAN – OLDER WOMEN ARE SAVING THE WORLD

We know that Batman cloaked in his cape and mask, was instantly recognisable when saving the world. But when older women are literally saving the world during this pandemic, they are cloaked in invisibility and masked by anonymity.

Remarkably, all around the world there is a predominance of women aged over 50 involved in the invention and in the development of most Covid19 vaccines. This applies to AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharma and CanSino, Covaxin, and Sputnik V.

Nevertheless, most people are totally unaware of this.
July 30, 2021/by Augustine Zycher
Woman Going Places

WomanGoingPlaces – a Social Enterprise Advocating for Australian Women Aged 50+

Why have we established WomanGoingPlaces as a Social Enterprise Advocating for Australian Women Aged 50+?

Governments and societies around the world have no idea what to do with an ageing population of women. By 2030, 28.7% of Australians will be aged 55 and over. The majority will be women. Women over 50 already represent 35% out of the total Australian female population of 12.9 million.

There are no policies and no roadmaps for such a radical change in the composition of society and the impact it will have on the economy. Instead, this whole issue is overlooked, ignored and cloaked with a mantle of invisibility by governments, business, the media, and sometimes even some women’s organisations.

In Australia, the US, England and indeed globally, older women are facing significant economic insecurity and social exclusion, particularly since the pandemic. Over a million Australian women 50+ are already below the poverty line and more than 400,000 are homeless. They are the demographic becoming homeless in greatest numbers at the fastest rate. The scale and severity of the social dislocation, impoverishment and homelessness of Australian women 50+ must be recognised as an escalating social crisis.

WomanGoingPlaces is dedicated to spotlighting this crisis and to advocating for action. Our journalism identifies the broader issues of the position of women 50+ in our society. We campaign against the barriers, discrimination and general invisibility we face. WomanGoingPlaces also tell the stories of Australian women50+, society’s unlikely innovators, re-inventing ourselves and re-defining how women age. This is our social purpose.
July 4, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Intergenerational Report

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in presenting the Intergenerational Report recognised that Australia has an ageing population and a shrinking workforce. The Report finds that one of the best ways of boosting the workforce and national productivity is through the employment of older women, including women over 65.

Surprise! Surprise!

Had the Treasurer subscribed to WomanGoingPlaces he would have seen that we have been advocating for this for some time now. Women over 50 are a massive national resource. They possess vast experience and knowledge as professionals and skilled workers. But the Morrison Government has treated them as a burden on the public purse.
July 1, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Older Female Workers

A perfect storm is facing hundreds of thousands of unemployed, underemployed and underpaid older female workers.

The Treasurer said job creation was a top priority in this Budget. It was also promoted as a Budget for women. In this spirit, funds were allocated to childcare for women with young children. And funds were allocated to people in aged care, the majority of whom are women.

But, if you fall between these two age groups, if you are a female worker aged over 50, then the Budget had a clear message - we don’t see you. There are no funds for you and you do not even rate a mention.

It is a spectacular omission given that one of the defining characteristics of Covid19 has been that older women have been the hardest hit with job losses and the least likely to be re-employed.
May 25, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Australia’s Ominous Social Crisis

Australia has never before witnessed the sort of ominous social crisis that is unfolding now.
Australia has never before had a demographic defined by age and gender, plunged into poverty and homelessness on a mass scale.

There are already more than 400,000 women over the age of 50 for whom this is a reality. It is a outcome of government policies, gender inequality and social prejudice.

Poverty is essentially a choice made by the Government. We saw this during Covid when people were raised from below the poverty line & the homeless were housed. If Budget 2021 fails to address the economic, social and housing disaster faced by older women then the Government bears direct responsibility for this escalating social crisis.
May 4, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Christine Holgate, Australia Post and the Federal Government

Appearing before a special Senate inquiry, Christine Holgate presented a powerful and meticulously documented expose of the role of the Australia Post Board and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in her removal from her position as CEO of Australia Post. So convincing was her testimony, that she was able to do the unthinkable. She was able to unite Pauline Hanson, Bridget McKenzie, Sarah Hanson-Young and the rest of the committee behind her in exposing the duplicity and bullying that led to her removal.
May 3, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

When Women Roar

The March4Justice movement has achieved something remarkable for Australian women. It has transformed decades of private suffering into mass solidarity. 

For the first time, tens of thousands of women ended their silence about sexual abuse and injustice.

The ‘I’ has become the ‘We’.

The March4Justice protests that saw 110,000 people in 42 marches around the nation have not dissipated into silence. 


Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins and Katherine Thornton together ignited this explosion of rage. Their courage set off a spontaneous combustion of deep reserves of trauma, shame and frustration buried beneath silence. Women have had enough.
April 9, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

999 Ways to Describe an Older Woman

Google offers over 999+ adjectives to describe an older woman or old woman. Astonishing. And they are uniformly pejorative:

Some common names for women over 50 – old bag, granny, biddy, crone, hag, witch, harridan, bedlam, old bat, old boiler - are just some of the names.

When Dr.Biden, the First Lady of the United States appeared in patterned tights and boots, she was instantly condemned in the media and on social media. Twitter users hurled sexist and ageist jokes at the 69-year-old educator. Numerous tweets called her names like “hag,” “hooker”, “trash and “witch”. One tweet advised that " For an additional $29.99 Jill Biden could have accessorized her Halloween costume with the optional broom."
February 19, 2021/by Augustine Zycher

Open Letter to Premier Daniel Andrews

Don’t fail Victorian women in the upcoming State Budget. The Federal Budget failed Australian women.

It is illusory to think that there can be economic recovery without the full participation of women of all ages.

Affordable childcare has to be a cornerstone of Victoria's Budget.
Policies targeted at older women are another cornerstone.
So too is social housing.

The progressive exclusion of women 50+ from the workforce is one of the most serious violations of women’s rights in Australia & it is happening on a mass scale. As a result these women constitute the majority of unemployed, those on welfare and the homeless. The Victorian Budget can halt this process of impoverishment with incentives for employment instead of age discrimination policies such as JobMaker.
November 5, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shattering The Age Barrier

In all the tributes to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for shattering the barriers denying her and other women justice and equality, haven’t we overlooked what was staring us in the face? Justice Ginsburg was an old woman aged 87 when she died. And the last barrier she shattered was the one erected in the path of women when they reach the age of 50. 

RBG was at the height of her power and influence in the 27 years between the ages of 60 and 87. She was 60, when she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the age when most women are regarded as being way past their “use by” date.

But most probably, if Justice Ginsburg had taken off her robes and and unrecognised, applied for a job in Australia, she would be treated the same way other women her age are treated. Most employers would consider her unemployable and refuse to give her work, and Government would resent such an unproductive person as a drain on resources. In a pandemic they might readily agree that she be sacrificed on the altar of economic recovery.
October 29, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

The Impact of the Pandemic on Older Women

We need to look at ageing in Australia as a gender issue.

Australian women are ageing quite differently to the majority of men.

Covid19 has exacerbated the significant disadvantage older women experience on every measure of economic and social wellbeing compared to men.

It has also increased their social isolation and exacerbated their precarious financial position.

For women, ageing is a process of devaluation.
September 9, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Corona & the Common Good

In the autumn of 2020, for two months, Australia united around the common good – “pro bono publico”.

When the scale of the approaching threat of coronavirus became evident, two unprecedented things happened.

First, Australian governments, federal and state, chose to put aside politics and ideology and based their policy on the advice of health experts.

Secondly, the Australian people trusted that our governments were actually acting to avoid a national catastrophe. So remarkably, a public consensus formed around the need to uphold the common good as a priority. What kept the vast majority of people in their homes was not the possibility of fines, it was this shared belief that our individual welfare depended on the welfare of others. And what kept us resolute were the images of mass graves in countries where there was no leadership and no consensus regarding the common good.
June 26, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Indigenous women elders imprisoned for homelessness & poverty

" Janine (age 61) is one of a large and growing number of older women who are homeless. Five years ago, she was made redundant from her position as an Office Manager in Perth. Despite great effort she has been unable to find a job and ultimately couldn’t afford to continue paying rent. Since beginning to live in her car 8 months ago, Janine has tried to find relatively safe places to park at night. As a result, she has accumulated parking fines which she simply can’t afford to pay … particularly as these have compounded, had administrative fees added and now total over $3,000. When Janine was pulled over by police for allegedly speeding, she was immediately arrested for these outstanding fines and sent to prison. She doesn’t know what’s happened to her car, which contains all her worldly possessions."

First Nations women elders are being imprisoned as a direct result of being impoverished and homeless.
Minor non-violent offences, such as not having enough money to pay parking fines, can land them in gaol, and this can turn out to be a death sentence for an older woman.
May 31, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

“Through no fault of their own”

“ Through no fault of their own”. This is the phrase that Prime Minister Morrison used when he announced the new Jobseeker payment that would replace Newstart for the coming 6 months. We were told that thousands of Australians would lose their jobs “ through no fault of their own”.  And since these people could not be expected to live on the Newstart payment of $40 a day, the Jobseeker payment would be doubled to $1,100 per fortnight.

Prior to Covid19, most people receiving the unemployment payment, Newstart, were actually women aged over 50. Many had been on Newstart for years, usually until they were old enough to qualify for the pension. Not once in the past did anyone in Government announce that these women were unemployed “through no fault of their own”.
Quite the opposite. 

There was a deliberate campaign to devalue and humiliate the people on Newstart as dole-bludgers who needed to be drug tested. 

 
May 7, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Covid19 – Is it the economy or the elderly?

There is a disturbing narrative growing about Covid19 restrictions. It boils down to making a choice between the economy or the elderly. The argument is that the economy and young people are being sacrificed to protect older people. Mike Seccombe in the Saturday Paper defined it as “ the extent to which we will mortgage our children’s future to protect the health of our ageing parents.”   And he talks about “ repaying the massive debt we have accrued, largely out of consideration of those older people.”

First, this creates an artificial dichotomy that somehow presents an international and a national crisis as an  inter-generational conflict.
April 19, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Now We Know Who To Blame

Australia is in the midst a housing affordability crisis. And now we know who to blame for it.

The Government is not to blame for a tax system that fuels skyrocketing house prices by benefiting local and foreign investors, developers and speculators. Nor is the Government to blame for its failure to address scarcity of housing including social housing.

No. The real culprits it appears are older Australians still living in their homes. It is their generational greed that is to blame.
March 10, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

Abandoning Old People on Ice Floes

It’s called Senicide - the custom of abandoning or killing the elderly once they reached the age of 60 or 70. The Inuit abandoned elders on ice floes. If you are ageing in Australia and are financially vulnerable, while you may not be dumped on an ice floe, you are at risk of being abandoned.

The Australian Government fails to acknowledge the scale and severity of an unprecedented crisis facing our ageing population. But confront it we must, because it has become an existential issue for Australia.

In the same way that we need a comprehensive climate policy to deal with climate change, so too do we need a comprehensive strategy to deal with demographic change.

However, the Government is not engaged in strategic national planning on this issue. Instead its policy towards financially vulnerable older Australians can best be described as a policy of attrition.
February 18, 2020/by Augustine Zycher

True Face of Newstart Recipients

Wendy Morgan, in her appearance on ABC’s The Drum, showed the true face of Newstart recipients.

The majority are older women and they are on Newstart much longer than younger people, often for four years until they are old enough for the pension.

Wendy is not a drug addict. Nor is she a dole bludger.

She is a science tutor, has a double science degree in physics and chemistry, ran a printing lab and also has a forklift license.
October 7, 2019/by Augustine Zycher

The Queen & Other Older Women

Have you noticed something about the women who were honoured this year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list?

Have you noticed that a significant number of these leaders in business, the media, STEM, women’s rights, Indigenous recognition, and innovation are women over the age of 50 - usually referred to as ‘older women’.

These women have been quite rightly recognised for their valuable contributions to society.  So why is it that women over 50 are generally regarded in media and in terms of employment as having expended their value with their youth?
June 16, 2019/by Augustine Zycher

The ‘Invisible’ Crisis

This election is characterised by bipartisan blindness. Both the Coalition's 2019 Budget and the Budget Reply show that Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten have overlooked a looming national crisis. Neither is prepared to recognise that older women in Australia are ageing into poverty and homelessness in unprecedented numbers.

These women remain invisible to both leaders and to their party platforms.

And yet the statistics are available to those who want to see them.
April 10, 2019/by Augustine Zycher

TWO AUSTRALIAS

Paul Keating recently expressed fears of a future when there will be two Australias. But we are already there. We already have a generation of people who have worked all their lives and now find themselves impoverished. They are women aged over 55 and there are over a million of them.
Their economic disadvantage is the consequence of a history of gender discrimination.
Throughout their working lives, these women suffered decades of economic discrimination, inequality and injustice.
November 18, 2018/by Augustine Zycher

WOMEN OVER 50 – what shall we call ourselves?

Let’s start by listing what other people call us - matron, old lady, granny, biddy, old bag, crone, hag, witch, are some of the names used.

There is nothing positive about these appellations. They are either neutral or negative. 
They denote weakness, ugliness, helplessness and even evil.
They constitute a massive put down. 

In a society that values women primarily for their youthful beauty, sexual and reproductive powers, the more we age, the more we lose value. Our currency as women is devalued. 
Until we become invisible.
April 9, 2018/by Augustine Zycher

We, the Matriarchs…

We, the Matriarchs… are the first generation in history of older, highly educated women to number in the tens of millions.
We are the first ever generation of older women who have spent decades in the workforce in professions and skilled employment, and not in the sweatshops and the fields.
We are the first ever generation of older women who have accumulated independent wealth and economic clout, despite discriminatory wage practices.
And we are the first ever generation of older women who can expect to live into their 90s.

But now we are entering the age of retirement. What next? What does society expect of us?

Well, nothing really.
June 18, 2017/by Augustine Zycher

Ajok – Women of Oz

My name is Ajok. I come from South Sudan (in 2005).
We want to talk with the Australian people. We are good people. We are not bad people. This is kids who take the rule here. This rule is not our rule.
But now our kids not listen to us.
When you see on the TV they say black people do this, they do this, you not feeling good. You feeling like tell your kid and your family to go back in your country. But not safe in our country. That’s why we are here.
April 16, 2017/by Rosalie Zycher

Fatma – Women of Oz

My name is Fatma. I come from Sudan. It was very dangerous, very scary. Some people stealing some things, some people steal kids. I’m scared, I say, Oh my God, me alone - no-one to help me. Just me with four boys and all just small.
April 14, 2017/by Rosalie Zycher

Esther aged 107 and Norma – Women of Oz

We interviewed Esther, aged 107, with her daughter Norma. Esther has lived in an aged care facility since she was 102. Prior to that she lived independently. Throughout her long life, she travelled extensively in Australia, especially in the family caravan, with her late husband and her daughters. These trips were a joyful and an important part of Esther’s family life. She and Norma share some of these memories.
December 27, 2016/by Augustine Zycher

Susan – Women of Oz

I learnt to be on my own later, travelling as an older woman, because I think I have been left alone as an older woman in a way that I never was when I was younger. I used to be followed. Spain was a nightmare. You couldn’t be on the street in those days in the sixties. You could not go to Spain alone. You could not go to Greece alone. And you could not be in Italy unless you wanted to be followed all the time. Now I feel very free because no-one even sees me! Oh, it’s great! It’s fabulous!
May 16, 2016/by Augustine Zycher

Karyn – Women of Oz

Every time we build in Cambodia, it’s a challenge because 40 to 50 people build 40 homes in 3 days. It’s heads down, bottom up, hammer away. It’s always a physical challenge.
May 16, 2016/by Augustine Zycher

Susie – Women of Oz

The most outstanding trip I ever undertook was with a group of 5 women and we climbed Kilimanjaro. It was an amazing, emotional experience.
May 16, 2016/by Augustine Zycher

Elizabeth – Women of Oz

I’d never been out of Australia until about 6 years ago. Well, I thought, it’s now or never. And now I’ve been to over 30 countries.
May 16, 2016/by Augustine Zycher

Claire – Women of Oz

The trip I most remember was to Mexico, about 4 years ago. My daughter was working there with Cirque du Soleil.
May 16, 2016/by Augustine Zycher