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Groups unite in fresh push for older people’s housing


A new coalition of aged care providers, homelessness services and consumers is being established to bring about government action on the urgent need for older people’s housing amidst worsening rates of homelessness among seniors.

The National Older Persons Coalition on Housing will lobby federal and state governments to increase funding for specialist homelessness agencies to support seniors in need and to advance an older person’s housing strategy, which has previously been proposed by aged care peaks.

The new coalition is one element of a major five-year project being undertaken by Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) and the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning (CHURP) and funded by The Wicking Trust.

A series of reports from government agencies and not-for-profit groups in recent years has documented the increase in seniors at risk of or experiencing homelessness (read AAA’s past coverage here and here).

Jeff Fiedler

The new project, which got underway last year, aims to increase awareness of older people’s housing needs, improve seniors’ access to suitable accommodation and ensure greater availability of support services for those experiencing difficulty.

Jeff Fiedler of HAAG said that older people hadn’t traditionally been on the radar of homelessness agencies but they were a fast growing group requiring help due to falling rates of home ownership and a sharp increase in the numbers relying on the private rental market.

Aged care providers were in a unique position to identify seniors at risk of homelessness and could refer them to appropriate services, he said.

“There is great interconnection with the aged care sector in our work given housing is a foundation for home-based aged care,” Mr Fiedler told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Lack of specialist agencies

Of major concern was the lack of agencies in the homelessness sector that could specifically respond to the growing numbers of seniors needing help, with just three specialist services for homeless seniors currently in Australia, Mr Fiedler said.

What’s more, the national Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) program was a “terrific service” but was currently “drastically under-funded,” he said.

The ACHA program, which is currently delivered by more than 40 different agencies across the country, is “patchily located” and not well networked with other agencies, he said.

Mr Fiedler and his project partner Dr Debbie Faulkner from CHURP are undertaking a survey of the organisations delivering the ACHA program and the project will be lobbying for reform of the scheme as well as increased funding.

They are also producing a series of state-based reports on older people’s housing issues in order to identify current gaps in service provision.

A report on the situation in South Australia is currently being finalised while another on NSW will be completed by August, he said.

Aged care providers interested in getting involved in the project can contact Mr Fiedler directly via email (Jeff.Fiedler@oldertenants.org.au).

Related AAA coverage: 

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3 Responses to Groups unite in fresh push for older people’s housing

  1. Christine Mifsud February 6, 2017 at 10:37 am #

    I think it a pity that the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program has got “lost” in the reforms which created the CHSP. It was a small but very effective program, staffed by people who had a sound knowledge of their local housing issues and were often effective advocates to Housing Authorities on behalf of their aged clients.

    The issue of appropriate housing for older people is not only about people at risk of homelessness; it is also about older people in inappropriate housing, particularly those in the private rental market. They are not facing homelessness, but they do face the prospect of earlier deterioration of health and mobility, because they are living in dwellings with stairs, no bathroom modifications etc. and wait lists for Seniors’ Social/Public Housing are years long.

  2. Rosemary Hislop February 7, 2017 at 11:23 am #

    I’m in Qld and really want to return to Victoria but state boundaries prevent me from applying for senior housing.

  3. Carmen Verne February 10, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Good article. This is something that is desperately needed now and in the future because the problem of homelessness is growing.The government should invest in more sicial housing because it will benefit society and the economy in the long term.

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