Affordable Housing Peer Network Event: Housing Women in Australia: Innovation in Underutilised Space


When: Thu 4th Mar 2021, 10:30 – 11:30 (1 hour)

Presented by: Philanthropy Australia

MEMBER EVENT: As women continue to be the largest cohort of people seeking help for homelessness, hear two innovative ways women are being housed and how philanthropy is helping.

Women continue to be the largest cohort of people seeking help for homelessness with 174,000 women receiving assistance from specialist homelessness agencies in 2019/20.  Older women are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness in Australia.  Family and domestic violence is the main reason women and children leave their homes in Australia.

Hear two innovative ways women are being housed and how philanthropy is helping.

Based in NSW, Women’s Community Shelters is a NFP that works with communities to increase the supply of safe accommodation for women and children experiencing homelessness as a result of family violence. In 2017 WCS and the PAYCE Foundation established the Pathways Home program, which is a ‘meanwhile use’ housing model that partners with landholders to identify vacant and underutilised property for the purpose of housing vulnerable women and children. Over a three-year period, the project has delivered 20 properties which has provided medium-term housing for 80 women and 64 children.

Based in a disused nunnery, McAuley House Ballarat provides medium-term secure accommodation, one-to-one social support for daily living tasks, collective meal preparation and dining, opportunities for further education and training, opportunities to volunteer at Mercy Place aged care and structured employment planning and placements. This unique service model acknowledges that the pathway from homelessness for women is multi-faceted and complex.  A review of the model was recently funded by Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.


Simone Parsons, COO Women’s Community Shelters

As COO of Women’s Community Shelters, Simone is responsible for supporting the effective operations of the Network of WCS Shelters and implementing the strategic directions set by the WCS Board and CEO.  Simone leads the Hub team to deliver the systems, programs, practice and partnerships that support the day-to-day work of the Shelters across the WCS Network. The Hub builds the capacity of Shelters to deliver trauma-informed and client-centred support to the women and children who are the purpose of their work. Their service delivery framework prioritises safety and supports each woman to rebuild her resources and agency through access to housing, health, financial and legal services, child health and wellbeing and professional case work.

Since joining WCS in 2016, Simone has led the development of WCS Housing Programs through Pathways Home and transitional housing partnerships focused on providing medium-term housing solutions through access to ‘meanwhile use’ properties.

Prior to joining WCS Simone operated her own consulting business, with an established practice in the housing and homelessness space, leading consumer consultation, policy development, service and program planning and evaluations, for not-for-profit organisations and Government agencies.

Jocelyn Bignold, CEO McAuley Community Services for Women

Jocelyn Bignold has been the CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women since 2008. McAuley Community Services for Women has a track record of innovation in providing support for women and their children who are experiencing family violence, and women who are homeless. Jocelyn was an expert witness before the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Jocelyn has over 25 years’ experience in community services, policy development, management and advocacy. Her work has led to an extensive collaboration with Government and other non-Government organisations to improve policy responses and service systems designed to support those in need.

Jocelyn was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours. The Award recognises her service to the community through social welfare organisations and her leadership and commitment to making lives better for women and children who have faced family violence and homelessness.

This meeting is part of the ‘Systems change’ discussion – and will therefore be open to PA members Active and above.


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Leading Philanthropist 2020

Carol Schwartz AO


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