.

  • Written by Jacki Montgomery, Lecturer, Advertising and Media, Western Sydney University
People between the ages of 25 and 34 are the largest group of woman who find themselves homeless. Oleg Golovnev/Shutterstock

Increasing numbers of women lack a safe and secure place to call home. But most women who are homeless are “invisible”. You don’t see these vulnerable women sleeping on the streets – most are forced into “couch-surfing”, staying in crisis or temporary accommodation, or sleeping in their cars.

We interviewed past participants in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout and people who have experienced homelessness. The stories of women who are homeless highlight the many forms that homelessness and the attendant vulnerability can take.


Read more: Homelessness soars in our biggest cities, driven by rising inequality since 2001


The most frequent cause of their homelessness is family violence. From 2015-2017, the number of women hospitalised due to partner assault rose by 23%. In Australia, one woman is killed by a current or previous partner every nine days. A woman is hospitalised because of domestic violence every two hours.

This image of a mother and her baby sleeping out in the cold in Sydney was widely shared on social media (they received help as a result). Facebook

The largest number of homeless women is between the ages of 25 and 34, a number that is increasing year on year.

Our study explores women’s homelessness as part of wider study of the immediate and ripple effects of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout – an annual event where CEOs sleep rough for one night to raise funds and awareness.

Female CEOs are particularly likely to respond to the issue of women’s homelessness, and to seek to raise others’ awareness, once their awareness of it is raised. For example, CEO Jen Driscoll said she was staggered at the proportion of women and children who are homeless and unsafe.

You can’t start to tackle an issue more broadly, unless you know what the issue is. It’s not just about sleeping rough, it’s about everything else that goes along with this path that leads you to the place of being homeless. And having a safe home is just a base-level requirement to being a human.


Read more: Take heart, charity stunts can make CEOs better people


Many paths to homelessness

Priyanka, 31, has been couch-surfing for six months, hiding from her ex-husband. After emigrating from India, he had been unable to find secure work and their relationship deteriorated.

His physical assaults left Priyanka unable to go to work and she lost her job. She now fears for her life.

I just always feel like I’m on high alert. And the stress of not knowing where I’m going to live is huge.

Priyanka tries to hide the shame and embarrassment she feels from couch-surfing. Her Facebook feed tells family back home of a successful, happy life in Sydney.

Coreen, 25, left Gunnedah with her boyfriend for the bright lights of Sydney. He returned home after six months, leaving her isolated and broke. An online job ad she answered “turned out to be a private escort service, and at the time, I didn’t feel I had much choice. She let me live there.”

Eventually, Coreen left as all the money she made went to pay the rent.

I started working at other parlours around Sydney. Because when you work there, sometimes they let you stay there. I started taking drugs. With that kind of work, it got you through your shift.

Coreen is now off drugs, seven months pregnant and staying at a refuge. Her future is uncertain – she doesn’t want to return to sex work and feels she cannot return to Gunnedah.


Read more: 'Just a piece of meat': how homeless women have little choice but to use sex for survival


Kim, 34, had been homeless for a dozen years after being kicked out of home at 18. She slept in cars and on couches and became pregnant with her daughter at 21.

Having my daughter saved my life. I didn’t care much about myself before that, but I didn’t want to be homeless with a baby.

While living in a refuge, she was assaulted by a male worker. She applied for public housing and was placed on the New South Wales waiting list. With more than 52,000 applicants, the average wait time for a two-bedroom property in Sydney is over 10 years.

To survive, Kim endured a series of abusive relationships, just to keep a roof over her daughter’s head.

Once, I was working as a nanny, and my ex showed up. I was trying to mind a baby and I had to phone the police. That got me fired.

At 31, Kim was offered a public housing apartment, where she now lives. She is working with a domestic violence counsellor she met through Vinnies to overcome the psychological scars of years of abuse.


Read more: Look beyond crisis accommodation so people like Courtney Herron aren't homeless in the first place


Awareness is first step towards action

Kim will share her story at the next Vinnies CEO Sleepout on June 20.

The annual sleepout is in its 14th year and has raised more than A$50 million to provide essential services for people experiencing homelessness.

Female leaders make up about 19% of those participating in the CEO Sleepout, a slightly higher proportion than the 17.1% of CEOs in Australia who are female. Those who participate are motivated to make a difference. As one said:

I just have a tiny sliver of this experience sleeping out in the cold. The sleepout brings together people who have larger spheres of influence, who can exchange ideas and push the message out more broadly.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Jacki Montgomery, Lecturer, Advertising and Media, Western Sydney University

Read more http://theconversation.com/i-didnt-want-to-be-homeless-with-a-baby-young-women-share-their-stories-of-homelessness-118180

'Making up games is more important than you think': why Bluey is a font of parenting wisdom

Bluey is not just a TV success story - it also contains important parenting wisdom. IMDBBluey is a ground-breaking Australian children’s television series and the most downloaded show in ABC iV...

Koa Whittingham, Psychologist and Research Fellow, The University of Queensland - avatar Koa Whittingham, Psychologist and Research Fellow, The University of Queensland

Teeth 'time capsule' reveals that 2 million years ago, early humans breastfed for up to 6 years

The teeth in these _Australopithecus africanus_ skulls contain important evidence about the nutrition of these individuals as they grew up. Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Author providedHumans’ distant ...

Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Senior research fellow, Southern Cross University - avatar Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Senior research fellow, Southern Cross University

Four Corners’ forced labour exposé shows why you might be wearing slave-made clothes

Target, Cotton On, Jeanswest, Dangerfield, IKEA and H&M are among the brands in Australia sourcing cotton from Xinjiang. www.shutterstock.comWith China’s western-most province of Xinjiang be...

Yvette Selim, Interim Deputy Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Yvette Selim, Interim Deputy Director, Anti-Slavery Australia, University of Technology Sydney

Hand sanitisers in public won't wipe out the flu but they might help reduce its spread

It's quicker to use hand sanitiser than soap and water, which means people might be more likely to use it. ShutterstockThis year’s flu season is off to an early start, with 144,000 confirmed ca...

Trent Yarwood, Infectious Diseases Physician, Senior Lecturer, James Cook University and, The University of Queensland - avatar Trent Yarwood, Infectious Diseases Physician, Senior Lecturer, James Cook University and, The University of Queensland

Wind and solar cut rather than boost Australia's wholesale electricity prices

Power failure. It's gas, not wind, that's pushing up electricity prices. ShutterstockWholesale prices in the National Electricity Market have climbed significantly in recent years. The increase has co...

Zsuzsanna Csereklyei, Lecturer in Economics, RMIT University - avatar Zsuzsanna Csereklyei, Lecturer in Economics, RMIT University

Reading and writing assistance increases the chance of getting a Disability Support Pension

One in eight disability support claims rejected are because the applicant is unable to supply the requested information. ShutterstockThe 2019 Australian Conference of Economists is taking place in Mel...

Nary Hong, PhD candidate in Economics, UNSW - avatar Nary Hong, PhD candidate in Economics, UNSW

Meet the endangered Bunyip bird living in Australia's rice paddies

Endangered species are living happily in rice fields. Bitterns in Rice/Matt Herring, Author providedThe debate around the Murray-Darling Basin is often sharply polarised: irrigation is destroying the...

Matt Herring, PhD Candidate, Charles Darwin University - avatar Matt Herring, PhD Candidate, Charles Darwin University

Regional cities beware – fast rail might lead to disadvantaged dormitories, not booming economies

Many commuters already travel from regional cities to work in capital cities like Melbourne so what impacts will fast rail have? Alpha/Flickr, CC BY-NCGovernments are looking to fast rail services to ...

Todd Denham, PhD Candidate, School of Global, Urban & Social Studies, RMIT University - avatar Todd Denham, PhD Candidate, School of Global, Urban & Social Studies, RMIT University

Curious Kids: can people live in space?

People do live outside Earth – on the International Space Station! But humans have had to find a way to make the conditions there more like what we’re used to at home. Flickr/NASA's Marsh...

Jonti Horner, Professor (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland - avatar Jonti Horner, Professor (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland

Extremist mobs? How China's propaganda machine tried to control the message in the Hong Kong protests

When protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong, China's state media had several tactics for how to describe it: some outlets ignored it, while others railed against 'extremists'. Jerome Favre/AAPAs ...

Joyce Y.M. Nip, Senior lecturer, Department of Media and Communications; Department of Chinese Studies, University of Sydney - avatar Joyce Y.M. Nip, Senior lecturer, Department of Media and Communications; Department of Chinese Studies, University of Sydney

Top Beach Outfit Ideas Inspired by Fashion It Girls

Whether you are going on a beach vacation or just spending a lazy afternoon lying on the beach and listening to the waves crash the shore, the only thing that could make a carefree summer day even b...

Brigitte Evans - avatar Brigitte Evans

Southeast Asia was crowded with archaic human groups long before we turned up

The ancestral population of modern humans appears to have split as it moved across Asia. ShutterstockAround 55,000-50,000 years ago, a population of modern humans left Africa and started on the long t...

João Teixeira, Research associate, University of Adelaide - avatar João Teixeira, Research associate, University of Adelaide

Curious Kids: did the velociraptors have feathers?

Was velociraptor a feathered friend? Here's one artist's impression. ShutterstockCurious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curious...

Caitlin Syme, PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology, The University of Queensland - avatar Caitlin Syme, PhD in Vertebrate Palaeontology, The University of Queensland

Voice evidence in trials: can a criminal suspect be identified just by the sound of his voice?

Prosecutors should be required to consult forensic linguistic experts on cases involving voice evidence, rather than solely relying on 'ad hoc' experts. ShutterstockA few months ago, I received a call...

Ahmar Mahboob, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Sydney - avatar Ahmar Mahboob, Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Sydney

1 in 10 patients are infected in hospital, and it's not always with what you think

Drips and other medical devices were potential sources of infection. But no-one expected to find hospital-acquired pneumonia and urinary tract infections. from www.shutterstock.comMost people expect h...

Philip Russo, Associate Professor, Director Cabrini Monash University Department of Nursing Research, Monash University - avatar Philip Russo, Associate Professor, Director Cabrini Monash University Department of Nursing Research, Monash University

It's a bad year for flu, but it's too early to call it the worst ever – 5 charts on the 2019 season so far

The impact of the flu on a population can be measured by looking at figures including cases, hospitalisations and deaths. From shutterstock.comFrom early this year it’s been apparent the 2019 Au...

Ian Barr, Deputy Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza - avatar Ian Barr, Deputy Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza

The long history of gender violence in Australia, and why it matters today

In 2015, the Australian federal government proclaimed that violence against women had become a national crisis. Despite widespread social and economic advances in the status of women since the 1970s, ...

Alana Piper, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Alana Piper, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Technology Sydney

Explainer: what Western civilisation owes to Islamic cultures

Sculpture of ninth-century Persian scholar Al-Khwarizmi in Khiva, Uzbekistan. Latin discovery of Al-Khwarizmi's work introduced the numerals 0-9, one of many ways in which Islamic cultures have contri...

Constant Mews, Director, Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University - avatar Constant Mews, Director, Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University

Making deer fair game for unlicensed hunting is the right step for New South Wales

The fate of deer carcasses is a crucial consideration in monitoring the success of future culling. Emma Spencer, Author providedThe New South Wales government last week revealed plans to ease shooting...

Thomas Newsome, Lecturer, University of Sydney - avatar Thomas Newsome, Lecturer, University of Sydney

How to choose a Weber Q Barbeque

There are several barbeque brands in the Aussie market today, and it can be quite challenging to find the right one for you. Weber Q is a reliable, barbeque brand that comes in a wide variety of products to choose from. This article investigates th...

News Company - avatar News Company

6 Reasons Why Fresh Content Benefits Your Brand and SEO

When it comes to content marketing, most guides focus on the part where your content needs to be relevant, well-written and well-formatted, all of which are true. However, while all of them speak about quality, most of them forget to mention just...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

LifeStyle

The Gas Fireplace VS the Wood Fireplace

It’s that time of year again when the weather has turned chilly, everybody is putting out their ...

How to Revolutionize Your Beauty Experience

Being concerned with beauty and cosmetics used to mean frequent visits to the salon and sitting in...

8 Cool Yet Romantic Things to do in Australia

Australia is a wonderful place for vacationing this summer and you can beat the heat as they have ...

How to Banish Dark Circles without the Need for Cucumber Slices

Dark circles can be downright annoying, especially when you are getting enough sleep. So, what cau...