It has been 2 years since I began my advocacy work for O.W.L’s. And what have we seen and experienced as a society and individuals regarding housing stress?
A growing number of O.W.L’s are now finding the courage to speak about their experiences. Increasingly media stories relate their personal tales of disadvantage and consequential trauma. Created by a society and systems that still fail to fully recognise and redress the inequities of gender disparity. These women are your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends, colleagues and neighbours. What do you do when you read their stories? Do you sit back and shake your head in disbelief? Do you take action?
In telling their narratives these women show us the dignity and respect that we all aspire to. They put their lived experiences into the public arena to raise awareness of the issues; poor physical health, poor mental health, poor wellbeing; they do it as catalysts for positive change. They do it so the future generations of women do not endure the same gender biased economic inequity and resulting poor quality of life that they have faced. Once referred to as ‘hidden’ O.W.L’s now have a voice. They are the human tide that will swell with vigour and propel government and society to implement policy change that will see a better life for Australian women. This is their right. Our right.
Social researchers nationally are accumulating vast evidence on the impact of economic insecurity and gender inequity on O.W.L’s. The body of work that researchers provide support reports of a national crisis for older women. Their dedication to exploring recording and informing policy makers on the issues and recommendations is to be commended.
So, given the information that has been made available, the voice of the women, the reports and submissions made to government by researchers and community organisations – what have the policy makers done? What efforts have they made to hold a summit, to bring together the experts and those with the capacity to develop and implement sustainable solutions?
While my work has involved lobbying politicians for reform, tendering submissions, raising awareness of the issue through media and speaking to the public the time has come to escalate the advocacy. The foundations for creating change for O.W.L’s are now established and I look forward to future reforms with optimism. The work has only just begun.