Mission Australia’s 2021 ‘safe homes’ winter appeal features the poignant story of a lonely and grieving 67-year-old woman who became homeless unexpectedly, to urge the community to donate to Mission Australia and help older Australians find a safe home this winter.  

Created with MindJam and Customedia, the campaign, which includes a television commercial, represents the story of Carol* who has been pushed into homelessness and isolation for the first time in her life. When Carol’s husband passed away suddenly, she not only lost her partner, but she lost her home too. Carol could no longer afford to pay the mortgage alone. Without superannuation to fall back on and due to the high cost of private rental accommodation, her only option was temporary shelter in a spare room at a local pub. 

I’m scared, I need a safe home.Carol, 67-years-old.


Due to the severe shortage of social and affordable homes in Australia, a short stay turned into months as Carol waited for availability on the social housing list. Mission Australia supported Carol with everyday tasks like managing overdue bills and helped to ensure she was placed on a social housing priority list. They listened to Carol and supported her through some of the more difficult days.

I thought this would be temporary but it’s starting to feel like forever.Carol, 67-years-old.

The campaign highlights there are 116,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night across the nation, and one in six people experiencing homelessness are over 55 years old (ABS 2016). It reveals that like Carol, there are more than 6,000 women over 55 years without a safe place to call home (ABS 2016). Women over the age of 55 are one of the fastest growing groups of people reaching out for assistance from specialist homelessness services (AIHW 2020).

Mission Australia’s General Manager, Fundraising and Marketing, Elvira Lodewick said the campaign exposes the plight of the increasing numbers of older people facing ‘hidden homelessness’ to show the urgent need for generosity to provide care and support those facing tough times this winter.

“The pandemic has forced many older people into poverty and homelessness, and for many, it’s for the first time in their lives. These challenges and increased isolation have caused enormous financial and emotional stress for many of our older Australians. As the cold of winter sets in, we are very concerned that many older Australians won’t have a safe, secure and accessible place to call home.

“Like Carol, older people who are homeless are largely unseen. Most aren’t in plain sight on the street. They’re more likely to be facing what is known as ‘hidden homelessness’. They’re living in unsafe or insecure living conditions such as a car, temporary accommodation, a garage or are couch surfing.

“Some women are more vulnerable to later-in-life homelessness than others. Women without sufficient life savings or superannuation, women experiencing chronic illnesses or who endure sudden life events such as the death of a loved one, divorce or job loss, are vulnerable to being suddenly pushed into homelessness.

“Mission Australia remains dedicated to our bold goal of ending homelessness in Australia and ensuring people and communities in need can thrive. Our staff, volunteers, funders and supporters are committed to ensuring people like Carol are safely and appropriately housed and have access to the community supports that they need.

“Now more than ever, in the wake of COVID-19, we know that more support is needed for people who are pushed into homelessness. I hope that people see our winter campaign and feel they can spare some dollars to help those staring down the barrel of tough times to find a safe home and receive support and care, especially now as the cold of winter sets in.

“Every donation offers a helping hand and helps Mission Australia support vulnerable older Australians at every step of their journey. Each dollar goes towards early intervention to prevent homelessness later in life, as well as case management with wraparound support to break the cycle of homelessness and specialised support for older people with mental health concerns.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and an opportunity to thrive. With the right supports and adequate housing options in place, together, all of us can help older people to stay well, be safely housed and feel supported by and connected with their community,” said Ms Lodewick.

Launched on 25 April, the campaign includes a direct mail appeal and is set to run online, on television and radio until 30 June 2021.

Mission Australia is one of Australia’s largest charities with more than 160 years of practical and proven experience working with Australians in need. The organisation has more than 2,000 staff and more than 480 programs and services, and invests in housing, services and programs to help end homelessness in Australia and ensure communities in need can thrive.

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*Names and images have been changed to protect the identities of the people Mission Australia helped.

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