As the homelessness rate among Australian women continues to rise (there has been a 10 per cent increase among women since 2011), these are both scenarios which will become more common, Jenny Smith, CEO of Homelessness Australia, told The Age.
Smith also warns against falling into the trap of thinking that homelessness could never happen to you. “The truth is that any one of us could be just one or two bad breaks away from finding ourselves without a roof over our heads.”
Jody (surname withheld), 46, found herself living in a car with her 13-year-old daughter after she became ill and lost her job.
“Up until that day in 2012, I’d done all the ‘right’ things: I had a great career in the military where I made good money, I owned a house and paid for things like income protection insurance – I did everything I was supposed to do. When my physical injuries and mental health issues prevented me from returning to work, however, the downward spiral began.
“Homelessness didn’t just happen overnight; for me, it took three years of selling off my life. My income protection refused to pay and once sick leave ran out and I burned through my savings while on leave without pay, I had to sell the furniture, the rest of our belongings, and finally our house.
“Without income coming in, I was rejected for 48 properties before I decided to move us into the car.
“In the end it took 18 months and a whole lot of fight before I received a certificate for invalidity retirement and my superannuation was released to me – a small sum, but large enough to buy a small place in the outskirts of Melbourne,” Judy said.