COTA NSW welcomes the recent release of the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians
, an Australia-wide study produced by the Benevolent Society, which highlights the enormous impact that secure and affordable housing has on the wellbeing of older Australians.
This study freshly corroborates the findings released in 2014 by COTA NSW, in our 50+ Report
, which concluded that soaring property prices – particularly in metropolitan centres – were having a dramatic impact on the lives of older people in NSW, and that the traditional model of owning your own home and living on superannuation and/or the age pension upon retirement was becoming increasingly unviable. Adding to these findings the Index of Wellbeing
suggests that access to affordable housing is the most crucial factor affecting an older person’s wellbeing.
“The recently released Index of Wellbeing is shining a spotlight on what housing affordability really means for older people. But one thing that’s important to add to the conversation, and which the study leaves out, is how the experience of housing affordability issues is gendered, “ says COTA NSW CEO, Mr Ian Day.
“What we saw in 2014 was that difficulties with finding and retaining secure and satisfactory housing were most dramatically impacting older women, and what we’re seeing again in our 2015 Consumer Survey is that women are still facing these challenges at a disadvantage.”
“It’s important to understand that this issue is gendered and that the sacrifices many women make investing years of their lives in unpaid care goes on to place them at a disadvantage when facing outside pressures like the current housing affordability crisis.”
In the soon to be released 2015 50+ Report, this gender divide is clear again, with female respondents less financially secure and more prone to factors that were linked to reporting a lower quality of life, including living on a household income of $25,000 or less, living alone and living on an age pension.
“Something interesting that will emerge when we look at the Index of Wellbeing side by side with the upcoming 50+ Report is the question of what really contributes to wellbeing,” says Mr Day. “The Benevolent Society has looked at wellbeing as being made up of a variety of ‘indicators’, for example, indicators of a person’s resources or participation in society. In comparison, our 2015 Consumer Survey has asked people how they themselves rate their quality of life. Using this method we have found that some people living in very difficult circumstances are giving very high quality of life ratings.”
“So while both of these studies will find that there are certain factors that support older people to have a high quality of life or wellbeing - factors that can be targeted through policy on issues like the housing affordability crisis - the comparison of these two methods is important in order to incorporate community input into an understanding of ‘wellbeing’ for older Australians.”