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Money for Jam Helps Older Women at Risk for Poverty

Per Capita

Money for Jam is a program created by the Centre for Applied Policy in Positive Ageing (CAPPA) that was inspired by a woman on the age of pension named Paulina, who boosted her Government allowance by offering gardening services to her neighbours. Gardening improved her emotional well-being, and it gave her enough money to be able to buy jam for her morning toast instead of the usual margarine.

CAPPA was formed by Per Capita, one of Australia's leading public policy think tanks, to follow through with the ageing and longevity policy solutions it recommended in its Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. The report was created on the belief that living longer is a good thing and that action needs to be taken to help older Australians take part in society and economy to the best of their abilities.

Other reports also pointed to a particular need among elderly women. In the 2016 Time of Our Lives Report, the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation found that in 2011 34% of single women over the age of 60 were in permanent income poverty. 'Too old to work, too young to retire' reports that even when older women are willing to work, they often face age discrimination and remain unemployed for longer periods of time. Such discouragement can lead to a loss of self-confidence which prevents people from escaping their self-despair, and having to rely on government support only worsens the feeling of shame and guilt.

To tackle this dilemma, CAPPA sat down with 13 different women over the age of 50 to understand their life stories, circumstances, needs, and difficulties. After analysing the women's stories, the team realised that while the women did not necessarily want to go into full time work, they had resilience and resourcefulness. And so, the team looked to the strategy Paulina used to make money for jam.

Taking what it had learned from months of conversations, CAPPA created a program based on the principle that emotional well-being needs to be strengthened before finances can be stabilised. The first step to its program is sitting down with the women and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. By getting to know their abilities, the program's mentors can help women, through one-on-one facilitation sessions, try out various microenterprise ideas and find one that fits them best, be it dog walking or English language tutoring. After settling on an idea, the mentors guide the women until they are ready to run their enterprises on their own.

CAPPA is prepared to pilot Money for Jam and is looking for organisations and individuals who are willing to support the program.