A SPOTLIGHT was shone on Australia’s “hidden homeless” – women aged over 55 – at Jewish House’s 2022 fundraising dinner on November 10 at The Venue, where an audience of 640 was moved by keynote speaker Glen-Marie Frost’s confronting story of becoming homeless, aged 63, a decade ago.
Frost was once living in a Bellevue Hill mansion and managing an international public relations firm, but unexpected family and health factors left her out of work, unable to pay the rent, and within three months, homeless.
“Life throws us many curveballs, however I’ve learned it’s about how you deal with it,” Frost said. “I want to ensure that other women don’t have to go through my experience, and the future can be better.”
Frost spent two nights sleeping in her car, but felt grateful to have supportive friends willing to take her in, including one in the Southern Highlands, where she stayed for four years in a granny flat.
Early on she’d met Jewish House CEO Rabbi Mendel Kastel, who offered her safe accommodation, “which I shall never forget”.
Along the way, Frost obtained a real estate and a marriage celebrant license, found meaningful work, and after seven years on the public housing waiting list, secured a flat in Woolloomooloo.
“This is what I wish to empower other women with – when life puts you in tough situations, don’t ask why me? Say try me!”
Frost is now an active advocate – through Jewish House and other organisations – for the “invisible ones, the 400,000 homeless women in Australia, and the 15,000 women who are sleeping on the street on any one night”.
Calling for urgent change, she identified a lack of super and access to financial literacy education, ageism by employers, and failure by governments to increase pension and Jobseeker payments as key factors contributing to homelessness for women aged over 55.
Rabbi Kastel said, “These women are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and carers … and Jewish House is committed to helping them.”
Another highlight of the evening, emceed by Kathryn Eisman, was the presentation of the 2022 Dennis Clifford Humanitarian Award to long-serving NSW Labor Legislative Council member, and NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair, Walt Secord, who converted to Judaism in 2021.
“I’ve supported Jewish House for 30 years because it is a joy to do so, so to be recognised for this support is a joy that adds to that joy,” Secord said.
From left: Rabbi Mendel Kastel, Walt Secord, Roger Clifford.
Photo: Nadine Saacks Photography