January 10, 2019

Susan’s Story

A growing cohort of Australia’s homeless is women in retirement. This is Susan’s story about how life changes can create housing instability, and how homelessness can be averted.

It was 1967 when a teenage Susan, along with her family migrated from Manchester England to Melbourne Australia. It proved to be a difficult move given she had already made a life for herself in England, however Susan was quick to find employment in a factory that manufactured record players. She remembers it well “It was just a job”, but a job nonetheless.

Susan married in 1973 and two children followed, bringing her immense joy. She balanced family life, with part-time work to supplement the family income. As a self-proclaimed ‘people person’, Susan preferred roles that provided interaction with people. During her later years, she was a cleaner in a nursing home before becoming a Support Worker, a role that she found immensely fulfilling and led her to study and obtain her Certificate III in Aged Care.

After retirement, Susan took a private rental home in Melbourne’s northern suburbs with her brother. However, when her brother moved out unexpectedly, Susan found herself in an uncertain predicament and she questioned how she was going to be able to afford to live on her own. At the age of 67 with the aged pension as her sole income, Susan experienced a feeling of helplessness she says she will never forget.

“Where do I go?”, “What do I do?” She even considered returning to work, “If I was physically able to, I would get a job and work but my body slowed down and won’t let me”. Desperate to avoid becoming another homelessness statistic, Susan explored other options including her local Homeless Agency and Local Council who were unable to help.

And then, Spectrum received a referral for Housing Assistance for Susan. A  home visit from Sharyn our Care and Housing Officer quickly followed. Sharyn advised how The Assistance with Care and Housing Program may be able to assist her with finding an affordable, low maintenance, independent living unit to enjoy in this later stage of her life.

Soon this possibility became a reality, Susan is now enjoying her unit with peace of mind and an immense sense of relief. She has a great relationship with her neighbours and takes every opportunity to involve herself socially. She is enjoying exploring her new location and it’s surrounding attractions, even embarking on a day trip to King Lake for a Christmas luncheon.

“I told everyone that there must have been some divine intervention because Im so lucky and so grateful for everything”


A smiling Susan and Sharon outside the unit