Ensuring economic and housing security

Ageism is one of the most prevalent forms of prejudice in Australia. In the workplace, older women are more likely than older men to be unfairly thought of as having outdated skills, being too slow to learn new things or as being someone who would do an unsatisfactory job. [1] Older women may also experience discrimination due to their appearance or for experiencing menopause. [2]

On average, women live longer than men but tend to have fewer assets. Factors contributing to lower economic security later in life include the gender pay gap, historic gender roles, the increased likelihood of women taking career breaks and women working part-time to do unpaid care. [3] Women tend to retire earlier than men, often due to reasons like menopause and caring for older parents and grandchildren, and do so with much less superannuation. [4] The effect of economic inequality means that more than a third of single women live in poverty by the age of 60, despite decades of work. [5]

Key statistics 1

  • Near retirement age, the gender superannuation gap is between 22% and 35%. [6]
  • Australian women on a median income will earn $136,000 less in superannuation over their working lives than their male counterparts. [7]
  • Across her lifetime, an average woman with children will earn $2 million less than an average man with children. [8]

Through Our equal state, we will keep delivering tailored support for women facing barriers to employment through Jobs Victoria’s employment services.

We will also address economic inequality for women and gender diverse people across the life course to ensure they are secure in older age. This includes:

  • providing tailored support for long-term jobseekers and those facing barriers to employment
  • promoting equal pay and secure employment, including a new target to halve the gender pay gap in the Victorian public sector within 5 years
  • sharing unpaid work and care better, including through the Best Start, Best Life early childhood reforms to reduce barriers and increase women’s workforce participation
  • advocacy to the Australian Government on reforms to superannuation, social security and paid parental leave.

Women make up a large and growing proportion of people experiencing homelessness. Housing insecurity and homelessness more greatly affect Aboriginal women, migrant women, women who are escaping family violence and women who have served in the Australian Defence Force. [9]

Older trans people can experience a range of housing-related challenges, including accessing retirement and aged care housing. A lack of training, knowledge and acceptance by staff in aged, group or retirement housing can be a barrier to safe housing, as can other tenants.

This strategy will address housing inequality through our investments in the Big Housing Build. Groups expected to benefit include older women, victim survivors of family violence and LGBTIQ+ Victorians.

Key statistics 2

  • Single older women aged 55 and over are overrepresented in the most asset poor in Australia. This negatively affects retirement and healthy ageing. [10]
  • Older women without children are the fastest growing group of people experiencing poverty, with 38.7% living below the poverty line. [11]
  • Older women and single parents are more likely to spend a larger proportion of their income on rent. This affects wellbeing and security. [12]

Case study: supporting women into secure housing and employment

The Big Housing Build is the biggest investment in social and affordable housing in Victoria – and Australia. We will deliver more than 12,000 new homes, including:

  • 9,300 new social housing properties to help Victorians in greatest need
  • a further 2,900 new affordable rental homes.

We are providing social housing residents with wrap-around employment, health and wellbeing supports.

Mirella is a 61-year-old resident in social housing. She experienced underemployment for a year and felt uncertain about her future. Despite extensive experience in the government sector, she experienced negative assumptions from prospective employers around her age and disability, which stopped her from getting her foot in the door.

Mirella received a referral to the Social Housing Employment Program (SHEP) as a participant of Uniting’s Disability Employment Service. SHEP is a jobs creation program we fund that offers training, skills development and job placement for social housing residents.

Mirella was matched with an employment coach who helped establish her goals and explored opportunities for her to access extra qualifications. Within a month, she started a role as a part-time administration officer at a community service organisation. She received help at every step of the journey, including with post-placement support and training modules.

Since she started this role, Mirella’s confidence has grown and her team say she is a true asset. A year on, Mirella has gained full-time work as a case worker at a local council.

Thanks to SHEP, Mirella couldn’t be happier about the impact her new job has had on her life.


[1] B Nogrady, ‘Age discrimination: older Australian workers viewed as too slow to learn’, The Guardian, 20 April 2017, accessed 12 April 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/apr/20/age-discri…

[2] Circle In, Driving change: menopause and the workplace, Circle In, 2021, accessed 6 February 2023. https://circlein.com/research-and-guides/menopause-at-work/

[3] Australian Human Rights Commission, Safety and security for older women, AHRC, 2021, accessed 6 February 2023. https://humanrights.gov.au/about/news/speeches/safety-and-security-olde…

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Retirement and retirement intentions in Australia 2018–19, 2020, accessed 12 April 2023. https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/re…

[5] J Enticott, E Callander, R Garad et al., ‘Women, work and the poverty trap: time for a fair go to support health and wellbeing for Australian women’, Monash Lens, 2022, accessed 06 February 2023. https://lens.monash.edu/2022/04/06/1384563/womens-reverse-wealth-trajec…

[6] KPMG, Addressing the gender superannuation gap, KPMG website, 2021, accessed 06 February 2023. https://kpmg.com/au/en/home/insights/2021/08/gender-superannuation-gap…

[7] The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute, The times they aren’t a-changin (enough), it is past time to value women’s work equally, 2023, accessed 3 May 2023, https://futurework.org.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2023/03/Centre-for…

[8] D Wood, K Griffiths and O Emslie, Cheaper childcare: a practical plan to boost female workforce participation. Grattan Institute, 2020, accessed 3 May 2023. https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Cheaper-Childcare-Gra…

[9] Women's Health Victoria, Spotlight on older women's health and wellbeing.

[10] ER Power, ‘Older women in the private rental sector: unaffordable, substandard and insecure housing’, 2020, Western Sydney University, accessed 27 February 2023. https://doi.org/10.26183/5edf0f0d75cf8

[11] M Hamilton, H Hodgson, B Bradbury et al., Security in old age for older single women without children, CPA Australia, 2020, accessed 06 February 2023. https://www.cpaaustralia.com.au/-/media/project/cpa/corporate/documents…

[12] ER Power, ‘Older women in the private rental sector: unaffordable, substandard and insecure housing’.

Illustration of diverse people