One in ten women living in regional WA face homelessness

Research has found one in ten women living in regional WA had been homeless in the last five years. Image by Shutterstock.
Research has found one in ten women living in regional WA had been homeless in the last five years. Image by Shutterstock.

Research has revealed nearly one in ten women living in regional WA has been homeless in the past five years.

YWCA National Housing surveyed 1039 women living on low to moderate incomes across regional Australia to determine their access to safe, affordable housing.

The research found 9 per cent of women living in regional WA reported having been homeless in the past five years and 16 per cent knew at least one woman who was currently homeless.

YWCA National Housing and Property Development director Jan Berriman said the Women's Housing Needs in Regional Australia report revealed a higher homelessness rate than previous studies and statistics because many women hid their living circumstances from others.

"One quarter of women who had been homeless, either in the past five years or currently, did not share their situation with any family member or friend, reflecting the likelihood of a much higher rate of homelessness than previously understood," she said.

"This is the first national study of women's access to housing outside the nation's capital cities and it clearly shows an urgent need for more safe, secure and affordable accommodation."

In the South West, 312 women sought help through Accordwest's housing and homelessness services during an 18 month period up until December 2019.

Around one woman every two days needed support because they were at risk of becoming homeless or were homeless at the time they presented.

Almost 70 per cent of those women were single with or without children.

Accordwest housing and homelessness manager Sydwell Madziva said the women needed support to secure, sustain or maintain accommodation for themselves and their children.

"Anecdotal evidence points to an increase in women seeking accommodation. This is mainly due to complexity of issues on presentation," he said.

"Complex and multiples factors affect women of different backgrounds.

"The most vulnerable are Aboriginal women who account for 33 per cent of presentations.

"A significant number of them do care for extended family but this places their tenancies at risk."

Madziva said there was a lack of readily available emergency and crisis accommodation in the region to help women immediately stabilise from heightened levels of anxiety, stress, pain and uncertainty.

He said this prevented women from being able to receive support to explore their options, access counselling or find other means of financial support or accommodation options.

The Department of Communities were contacted for comment but did not respond in time for publication.