Mission Australia’s report into homelessness and older Australians has found that the number of people over 55 who need assistance “continues to grow”.
CEO Catherine Yeomans said: “The high cost of housing is placing great financial strain on many older people, particularly those who are renting.
“For people who are surviving on social security payments like the age pension, there’s not much left over after paying the rent each week.”
Continuing, she called on all levels of government to provide services and accommodation that meet the needs of Australia’s older population.
“Appropriate housing that is truly affordable is a key part of the solution.
“We must provide options that include support to age in place, social housing and more intensive supported accommodation models that allow people to age in their communities where they feel safe, connected and supported.”
She added that financial insecurity was another element that needed addressing, and in particular the impact of financial insecurity on older women.
As women are more likely to earn less, work casually or part-time and take time off to be carers, they often retire with smaller savings. Currently, the super gap between genders is 47 per cent, according to the Senate Economics References Committee.
This puts them in “precarious financial situations”, Ms Yeomans warned.
“Strategies should be put in place now to boost economic security for women to prevent heightened risks of homelessness in later life.”
Older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and older carers are also at increased risk.
As Mission Australia explained, the death of a care recipient can have “serious implications for the carer” like a termination of access to tenancies, or a reduction in income, along with grief.
Additionally: “Carers who are disengaged from the workforce due to their caring responsibilities can experience significant financial disadvantage, including limited superannuation savings and other assets.
“Retirement incomes should be reviewed to ensure these older people receive adequate financial support when they reach retirement age.”
Mission Australia argued that 60,000 additional social housing dwellings need to built specifically for older people and the adequacy of social security payments also need to be reviewed.
They also called for “holistic, person-centred supports including prevention and early intervention measures”.
Ms Yeomans said: “Everyone deserves a safe and secure home. Older members of our community, in particular, need stable accommodation where they can look after their mental and physical health and age with the respect they deserve.”
Swiss bank UBS recently found that the current superannuation savings rate of the average Australian “Jane” will see her retire on an income made up of the pension and superannuation that is 37 per cent lower than her current income.
This means that in order to sustain her lifestyle, Aussie Jane needs to put away 37 per cent of her salary each month in her remaining 10 years or so until retirement.
“As many countries face substantial demographic challenges and an extremely low interest rate environment, further adjustments, and in some cases substantial reforms, are necessary. Contribution rates need to be carefully calibrated to ensure sufficient pension income in old age,” UBS said.