Where's Lyn?

the voices of older women are being ignored in the design of policies
In the lead up to 2023 International Women’s Day, we’re calling on everyone to to ask the question, “Where’s Lyn?” because the voices of older women are being ignored in the design of policies, especially the policies which impact them the most.
Lyn Bailey

This is Lyn Bailey. She worked as a mid-wife for 50 years. She’s a professional. But a divorce ended her dream of security in old age. The bank would not loan her money because she was deemed too old to repay the mortgage even though she worked way past the official retirement age. She was staring down the barrel of homelessness.

Fortunately for Lyn, she managed to find community housing in the nick of time. This was some years ago, and now, she is using her experience to advocate for older women facing housing insecurity.  Lyn has kindly allowed us to share her image for our campaign.

So today, we’re launching the ‘Where’s Lyn?’ campaign.  We want people to look at these images, and then when they next see a gathering of decision makers, ask that important question – ‘Where’s Lyn?’.

The ‘Where’s Lyn?’ campaign will superimpose the image of Lyn in various settings where decisions are being made, but where the voices of older women are not being taken into consideration.

A group of politicians at a table, including Anika Wells. Lyn is superimposed next to them

4 out of 10


Here we have a photograph of the Aged Care Minister, Anika Wells, with the Secretary of Health, Brendan Murphy and a few others at a meeting talking about staffing in aged care.

But where is the voice of older women, to say that the current aged care staffing is totally inadequate? At the moment, 4 out of 10 residents in aged care are subject to abuse – from unnecessary restraints to being malnourished – simply because we do not have enough qualified aged care staff in the ratios necessary for safe care.

Where is the voice of older women like Lyn at that table to say that it is 100% not OK that aged care staff can say that in 58% of sexual assault cases, the victims are not impacted at all.

And here’s Lyn where she should also be at the table – with the Prime Minister and Premiers of the other states. We need her voice to be heard about housing insecurity.

There are 8.6 million people over the age of 55 in Australia today. And we have a crisis on our hands with the increasing numbers of older women who are falling into homelessness and poverty. This is not surprising because Lyn’s voice is not being heard that 80% of us rely wholly or partly on the age pension.

Lyn is not there to say that there’s 500,000 older women living in permanent income poverty. Every day of every week of every year.

Lyn is not there to remind the politicians that with the 88% increase of older women accessing homelessness services, and that with 50% of women between 45 and 59 only having $8000 or less in their super, this is just unacceptable. Our policies must change.

The pension and JobSeeker are pegged way below the poverty line. Lyn will be able to remind the politicians that the biggest cohort on JobSeeker are people aged over 55.

And remind them that here in Sydney, none of the payments are enough to even cover the average rental which is $84/day. Those on the pension gets $66.91 per day, and those on JobSeeker gets $47.74 per day.

Which is why the waiting list for housing is 164,000. And we know that this number is not accurate – and the reality is so much more.

Lyn superimposed sitting at a desk with the Prime minister of Australia (male) and all the state premiers, one being female, all young.

older women are living in permanent income poverty


increase in older women accessing homelessness services


of women between 45 and 59 only have $8000 or less in their super

2 ladies dancing

older Australians were affected by the bushfires alone in 2019-2020

We also want to know where’s Lyn in the meeting of those working in emergency services.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which was established in the wake of the devastating bushfires that occurred in Australia in 2019-2020, estimated that hundreds of thousands of older Australians were affected by the bushfires alone. Many of these individuals were forced to evacuate their homes, lost property or possessions, and may have experienced physical or mental health impacts as a result of the disaster.

The recent flooding in Lismore showed us that emergency preparedness is just not prepared for not only the scale of the natural disaster (which we know will get worse with climate change) but also the diversity of the population involved.

In a flood, we know that we need to get up onto the roof to wait for rescue. But what if we have mobility issues? What if we can’t climb? Where is the plan to know where the vulnerable live, and to evacuate them quickly? And once they get to the evacuation centres, what is the planning for those who can’t sleep on the floors? And who need their daily medication to keep their medical conditions under control?

That’s why we need Lyn at these meetings.

That’s why we’re asking – “Where’s Lyn?” We’re working towards the day when the Prime Minister will hold up the White Paper and say, “Every policy in this Country must be inclusive of older women”.

We need a country which recognises the full diversity of its people and that includes older women.

The prime minister holding a document with Lyn superimposed on to the cover

Ask “Where’s Lyn?”

We want to highlight the invisibility of older women in decision making tables; and encourage everyone to ask “Where’s Lyn?” as a tagline for inclusion of older women.

Please support our campaign by sharing the image and making a statement about why it’s time to end the invisibility of older women.
Lyn superimposed sitting at a desk with the Prime minister of Australia (male) and all the state premiers, one being female, all young.

 More Information

“Where’s Lyn?” is OWN NSW’s project for 2023 International Women’s Day.

OWN NSW is also part of the #OlderWomenCount project with Celebrate Ageing, Suzanne Phoenix and for 2023, supported by Elder Rights Advocacy Victoria.

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