Widowhood and Social Welfare Policy in Australia

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Approximately 9% of the female population of marriageable age and 2% of the corresponding male population is widowed. In total about 750,000 adults plus those who have remarried, experience or have experienced widowhood. That experience is often one of loneliness, emotional distress and financial difficulty. The social security and social service systems cannot replace a partner, but can provide income maintenance and social service support. This study examines needs of widowed persons and identifies gaps in support and provision. Dr. Linda Rosenman, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of St. Louis, spent a period as Visiting Fellow in the Social Welfare Research Centre in 1981. She worked with the team studying the welfare of elderly people, but as this report shows, widowhood is an issue affecting a wider spectrum of the community. She has been involved in large scale studies of widowhood in Australia and the U.S.A. This paper reports only the social welfare policy aspects of widowhood in Australia. Dr. Rosenman examines the survey evidence on financial problems; difficulties with housekeeping; child care and home maintenance; employment; health care; transportation; and loneliness, and concludes with suggestions on ways that our social welfare system might respond to the problems identified more meaningfully and flexibly. The problems are particularly acute for widowed women who are ‘pensioned off’ and, by not being encouraged back into the labour force, are set up for a situation of poverty and dependency. The situation is even more difficult for non-English speaking women, as interviews with 30 Greek widows showed. This paper both provides evidence and makes policy relevant suggestions.
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Rosenman, Linda
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download Reports and Proceedings No 16.pdf 2.8 MB Adobe Portable Document Format
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