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Sydney Women’s Fund launches Portrait V: Women of Greater Sydney Research

Eighty-five per cent of Sydney women are finding it harder to live a comfortable life than they did 10 years ago, driving them to leave the city so they can have a more affordable lifestyle.

The Sydney Women's Fund’s Portrait V: Women of Greater Sydney Research paints a vivid and concerning picture of the vulnerability experienced by a significant number of Sydney women, from finances to personal safety.

The research was commissioned by the key Sub Fund of the Sydney Community Foundation and was conducted by leading Australian researchers Dr. Rebecca Huntley and Kate Whelan.

It takes the pulse of women in Greater Sydney, highlighting the issues that matter to them and the challenges they face.

Sydney women and finance
More than half of Sydney women described their financial situation as 'getting by, struggling, or poor.' Alarmingly, 53% are uncertain or do not believe they will have enough to live comfortably when they retire.

“I think I'm probably one significant life event away from moving into a car […] like a job loss or a significant medical event that means I can’t work.” – Peta, 38, Portrait V participant

The cost of housing was a key concern, with six in 10 women saying they were worried about housing affordability. Younger women face being locked out of home ownership, while older women said they may have to move out of Sydney to be close to family.

Being able to pay for groceries was getting significantly harder, with almost 1 in 5 women saying they had worries about feeding their family frequently or very frequently over the past year.

The Portrait V Research highlights Sydney women’s concerns about the cost-of-living crisis, housing insecurity, climate change, discrimination and their struggles to balance work and domestic life, says Lisa
Grinham, Head of Sydney Women’s Fund.

“While many of the insights from the previous Portrait studies have been confirmed, there have been some shifts too. For example, 42% of women are also now in housing stress, an increase of +6% since 2021,” she says.

The juggling act
The report also highlights the inequity many women face when it comes to their careers. While more than one third of women would like to work more, they struggle to balance work with domestic responsibilities and caring for others.

“42% of women who would like to work more have had to resign or reduce work hours to care for others,” Lisa says.

Almost half of the women surveyed said they felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and didn’t have much time for themselves, as they struggled to balance work, domestic responsibilities and family life.

“Sometimes I feel a bit stifled, a bit stuck … I am working full time, balancing … school activities and running to the supermarket to get milk and the essentials, then running back. There’s not much time for me.” – Michelle, 51, Harris Park      

Many women also fear for their personal safety, with more than half saying they avoid public transport at night, and women who rent alone feeling particularly vulnerable.

“The Portrait V study gives great insight into the challenges Sydney women are facing and helps guide our programs and advocacy at the Sydney Women’s Fund,” Lisa says.

The Sydney Women’s Fund advocates for greater equity for women and fundraises to support women and their families in Greater Sydney and NSW. To support this vital, life-changing work, find out how you can donate or get involved here.

To read the full Portrait V: Women of Greater Sydney Research report, click here.

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