Tragedy of Commons

The Story of One Woman = The Story of Many Women

Born in Canberra I am the mum of two now adult daughters. While they were young I worked part time in paid positions in the private and public sector. No superannuation low wages. I like many other O.W.L’s I worked as a ‘volunteer’ within the wider community. No wage No superannuation. Yet – we helped build & strengthen our community – environmentally, socially and economically. 

In my 30’s I had an accident on Mt Ainslie while taking part in a work exercise. I then moved to Victoria with my family. In 1997 I was pensioned out of my employment and classified as totally and permanently incapacitated. I just want to point out that I am in fact Not incapable.

In my mid 40’s my partner and I separated I received an inequitable settlement. I did not have enough money to purchase a house or unit. I went from a beautiful secure appropriate house to nothingness. My only option was renting.

The places I rented became substandard as I constantly moved in an attempt to manage financially. And short term leases forced me to move. So I have rented rooms and moved from friends place to where I am now. At one point I had nowhere to go. It was overwhelming and embarrassing for me. I didn’t have the financial ability to pay private rent in combination with the lack of places available. I had applied for affordable housing – but didn’t earn enough to be eligible. I was shocked to realise that I was actually homeless. I was almost dazed thinking how did I get to this point?

I am at uni in my third year so text books are a worry because they are expensive; the internet is also an extra expense. I live my life backwards like Benjamin Button at my end of the age spectrum I am living like a uni student in their 20’s. So even if I do get a job how will I be able to pay private rent as I get older? Where is that permanent home going to be? When there isn’t anywhere now?

I thought I was the only one of my age in this situation. What I learned since then is that I am not unique. There are many women in the same disadvantaged circumstance.

The impact on my life and capacity to engage with my community has at times been annihilated. I don’t give in and I don’t give up – but at times that choice has been tempting. I refuse to allow a system that is insufficient and inadequate to deny my right to live reasonably and with value.

I don’t believe that Australians as individuals, businesses or organisations are willing to allow older women to be hidden underrepresented and disregarded by a lack of secure affordable appropriate housing.


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