Financial insecurity is the 'grim reality' for many women in Sydney

Financial insecurity is the ‘grim reality’ for many women in Sydney

New research shows that 82% of women in Sydney across all ages are finding it harder to live here than five years ago, with 49% per cent saying they are either “struggling or just getting along”.

The author of the independent research report commissioned by the Sydney Women’s Fund, Dr Rebecca Huntley, says financial stress, housing and employment are major areas of concern.

“Make no mistake this research reflects some grim realities about the lives of Sydney women – worried about their futures, under housing stress, experiencing discrimination at high levels,” Huntley, says. “Alienated from decision making processes and generally concerned about the health and wellbeing of their families and community.”

The report, Portrait III Research – the hopes, dreams and fears of Sydney Women, sought to take the pulse of Sydney Women and surveyed women aged 17 to 75 in greater Sydney.

The findings were launched on Monday by Dr Huntley, CEO of the Sydney Women’s Fund, Jane Jose, the Chair of the Sydney Women’s Fund, Georgina Byron, the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, Lucy Turnbull and Lucy Brogden.

The research shows an economically divided city. Almost half of Sydney women say “they’re struggling or just getting along”, and almost 60% of these women are living in Western Sydney.

Just under half of Sydney women earn less than $34,000 per annum and 73% are concerned about maintaining an adequate income to remain in Sydney. Half of women in Sydney spend 30% or more of their income on housing.

Only 11% of Sydney women are confident they can finance their own future with retirement funds while a third say that if their relationship broke down, they would be at-risk financially.

“The report tells us Sydney is missing out on the full contribution women can make and that discrimination, the caring role women take, and other barriers are preventing women’s full participation in work,” Jane Jose CEO Sydney Community Foundation and its Sydney Women’s Fund says. “Sydney women are working hard and many want more work. Sydney is losing from this and we need to change it.”

Rebecca Huntley says these issues need to be addressed.

“If Sydney is to be a vibrant, safe, prosperous and equitable place to live in the coming years, we must address the concerns of women living in all parts of Sydney and do what we can to remove the barriers to women’s full and free participation in public life.”

In addition to economic stress, the research shows Sydney women face discrimination at worrying levels; 61% had experienced a negative impact of discrimination – based on race, gender, sexuality, disability – in the past 12 months alone.

And 85% feel alienated from the political decision-making processes shaping Sydney and Australia.

SWF’s Portrait III Research is the first baseline survey in any Australian city of women and girls aged 17-75.

“The findings are challenging and will enable Sydney Women’s Fund to measure, progress and design programs and advocacy to respond to the findings,” Jose says. “It is a call to action to build significant investment in Sydney Women’s Fund to fund programs addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged women and their families across greater Sydney. It sets an agenda for corporate Sydney to address women’s equity in workplaces and for government to lead policy change for greater equity and financial security for women.”

The Sydney Women’s Fund advocates for greater equity for women and fundraises to support women and their families in greater Sydney and NSW to participate fully in public life.

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