Saved from homelessness at the last minute, Susan Mathewson says she is luckier than many older Australians living in poverty

For Susan Mathewson, it was a confluence of events. First her mother got cancer and she visited her in hospital every day. Her successful freelance ad writing career stalled, then suffered. Soon after, her partner left, and she became estranged from other family members.

“I fell into a heap, and I couldn’t get back up again,” she now says. This was the turning point for the 64-year-old woman with bipolar disorder now in assisted housing, on Newstart and living below the poverty line. She had been a creative director in advertising once, earning “lots and lots of money”.

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