Melbourne support group for older lesbians, the Matrix Guild, has cut the ribbon to officially open three new apartments in Brunswick.

Matrix members gathered at the Brunswick Town Hall last week to celebrate the realisation of a long-held dream to offer affordable housing to older lesbians in need. After a delayed settlement date, the apartments are due for occupation later this month.

Speaking at the launch, Matrix housing convenor Anneke Deutsch thanked all those who played a part in making the dream a reality and said she hopes to continue expanding the Matrix Guild’s housing portfolio.
“This has come about because of the dedicated support of so many people,” she said. “We’re very grateful for their help.”

Deutsch announced the three apartments — bought as a result of a bequest made to Matrix by local lesbian feminist Heather Chapple — would be named Peregrine, Kestrel and Puffin in honour of Chapple’s love of bird-watching.

Deutsch said without the help of the Victorian Women’s Housing Association (VWHA), which holds the apartments in its name and helped Matrix take advantage of the federal Government’s social housing funding stimulus boost to buy them, the lesbian-friendly accommodation would not exist.

VWHA C Jeanette LargeEO said the apartments were a “wonderful achievement”.

“It’s a great example of a partnership and how you can get things off the ground,” Large said.

Matrix founding member Jean Taylor told those assembled the launch was a “fantastic milestone” for Matrix.

Greens MLC Colleen Hartland told the launch the apartments were “housing options that offer people dignity”.
One woman set to move in is 69-year-old artist Pamela.

Pamela told the Star Observer she was “incredibly grateful” and would have an art creating space for the first time in 10 years.

“If I said I was excited, it would be an understatement,” Pamela said.

“To think there is something as lovely as these apartments where you are safe and secure and the house will be mine, the sense of having that is overwhelming.

“To be at this time of my life … it takes a lot of worry away to have the freedom to spend your later years in gracious retirement.”

The night also saw the launch of a 12-page booklet, We Live Here Too: A guide to lesbian-inclusive practice in aged care, which makes six recommendations for people working in aged care to provide welcoming
environments for older lesbians.

The booklet, funded by the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust, was written by La Trobe University academic Dr Catherine Barrett.

Women’s Benevolent Trust executive director Mary Crooks said the booklet was designed to “tackle discrimination” in aged-care services.

“If this doesn’t help and change people’s views, I don’t know what will,” she said.

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