A group of older women in Betoota’s Flight Path district are today preparing for the very real possibility of sleeping rough for the rest of their lives.

Joanie, Dot and Jilly are all in their late 60s to early 70s. As renters in the once working class suburb they grew up in, they never thought they’d see the day where they have to pack up and leave everything they’ve ever known. Especially considering the fact that they never thought it could get rougher than their beloved hometown.

But as Australia is learning very quickly… It can.

The 2016 Census showed that older women were the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia. The number of women over 55 experiencing homelessness increased by 31% compared to 2011. In the 2021 Census, this number had increased by a further 6.6%.

Like a number of similarly single older women in this suburb – Joanie, Dot and Jilly are met with the same compounding factors that could easily see them living out of their early-90s model Holdens in the not too distant future.

The lack of superannuation that comes from working part time or casually throughout their lives, with the time they had to take off work to care for family and dying husbands, as well as their lack of skills in the digitalised modern job market – and a property sector that has lobbied the government to slash public housing for 30% to 6% since John Howard. It looks like the pension isn’t going to be enough.

These old girls sold up the free-standing family homes decades ago when all of their husbands died young after gruelling careers as factory fodder for local manufacturers. It looked like more than enough to live off at the time.

But with the cost-of-living crisis – paired with a hysterical property market that has not left one inch of the Australian cities sensibly valued, it seems the wave of cold-blooded gentrification is on their doorstep.

This comes after a confirmed sighting of an adorable designer pet wearing a doggy puffer jacket. A telltale sign that the young urban professionals are willing to sink as low as pretending this old industrial suburb is ‘up and coming’ – which means rents will soon be unaffordable for anyone but dual-income yuppies and trustfund babies.

“Oh fuck” says Joanie, upon spotting the poodle.

“It’s all over” said Dot

“We better get knitting, girls” says Jilly.


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