Last week I had lunch with the legendary Liz Dawson who works tirelessly to help the most disadvantaged in our community. Liz was instrumental in establishing Common Ground Canberra, an organisation that provides permanent housing and services for low income and homeless people.
Common Ground recently ran a Centenary of Canberra project with Big hART called the Winter Bed Vigil. Canberrans were asked to get into bed in Civic Square to talk about homelessness. I got into bed with Dr Rashmi Sharma, Isabella Plains GP and Chair of the ACT Medicare Local, and spoke about the tsunami of homelessness facing older women.
Since I was elected, I have met and helped many women in housing crisis. In fact minutes after I was officially declared the Member for Canberra and opened up the office, the first call I got was from a woman fleeing domestic violence, living in her car with her two teenage children, at the same time undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. The women I have met are in their late 50s-early 60s, on modest incomes, in the private rental market and with limited super. And they are terrified about their future and a bleak retirement.
If I am re-elected, this issue will be a personal focus. I look forward to working with community organisations such as the YWCA, Common Ground, the ACT Government and other Canberrans to work out how we can ensure housing security for older women.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the many Canberrans who have worked with me and supported me over the past three years. It has been a tremendous privilege and honour to represent you and advocate for you as the Member for Canberra, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue in this role.
Canberra Chronicle, August 2013