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Beating the Odds - Homelessness in Sydney
September 8, 2010 6:46 PM   Subscribe

An ABC Investigative Unit team hit the streets of western Sydney, where young people are struggling to break a vicious cycle of unemployment and family breakdown, to find out what's being done to stop them from falling through the cracks. In a great article by ABC reporters Eleanor Bell and Ed Giles, they found that the lack of resources, infrastructure and support for families in these communities is getting worse, not better but that despite this, many locals are still proud of their community.
posted by Effigy2000 (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Really good stuff Effigy2000, thanks for bringing it to our attention, I'm very keen to check out the videos when I get home.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:51 PM on September 8, 2010


Oh man this is going to depress me. Those photos look like the scene in my suburb here in Hobart.

they found that the lack of resources, infrastructure and support for families in these communities is getting worse,

The result, surely, of a decade of focusing on middle-class welfare (hi there, non-means-tested Baby Bonus and private health insurance rebate!) rather than housing and services, and a completely unconscious manufacturing industry. Politicians across the board fail those who've fallen through the cracks. A prime reason I was proud not to vote Labor or Liberal this last election. Great post.
posted by Jimbob at 7:02 PM on September 8, 2010


The result, surely, of a decade of focusing on middle-class welfare [...] rather than housing and services,

This is true in a lot of places, the kids that need food at school and low income housing are the ones most likely to suffer in this climate of cuts to services. I was reading about motel families in LA, a product of years of abandoning housing for the working poor.
posted by shinybaum at 7:57 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks interesting; thanks for this.

Gotta say though, that infographic could've been better designed by a monkey.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:04 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreed, UbuRoivas. They need to go study at someplace like http://dzineblog.com/2009/10/27-beautiful-examples-of-infographics.html or http://www.coolinfographics.com/. But, yeah, thanks for the article! Shining the spotlight on poverty and our inability, as a society (or societies), to deal with it is tremendously important.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 8:14 PM on September 8, 2010


> that infographic could've been better designed by a monkey

Not sure what your definition of "infographic" is, but it's actually an interactive Flash thing.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 8:52 PM on September 8, 2010


It's a great set of arcticles, but it's not really about homelessness. Most of the people there aren't homeless; if they're already in public housing they're probably at far less risk of homelessness than people struggling in the private market, and they probably have relatively greater access to services than people outside of housing. The problem they're writing about is cyclical disadvantage—that's much more than just a roof.

I was surprised to see so little made of intergenerational domestic violence in the article. If the original question was supposed to be about how we can protect vulnerable children (with the mention of Kiesha) then domestic violence has to be part of the response.
The result, surely, of a decade of focusing on middle-class welfare
Actually in Sydney it has a lot more to do with five or six decades of housing and planning policy and the housing boom. In the post-war planning period clearances of inner-city working class areas were systematic, public housing estates have been pushed out to the margins of central areas. The city's a pattern of centres and peripheries, with speculative private residential investment pushing out everything—services, transport, industry, everything.

One of the comments at the very bottom:
If inner-city, leftist ideologues want more public housing, build it in their inner city backyards, not here
As an inner city leftist ideologue, I agree. Give us more affordable and public housing distributed throughtout the city.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:20 PM on September 8, 2010


Not sure what your definition of "infographic" is, but it's actually an interactive Flash thing.

Are we talking about the thing with all the circles & bullseyes that are coloured the same & look identical, give or take a micromillimetre here or there?

Because what they convey most to me is "Hey, Mt Druitt is just about the same as Mosman & Double Bay! Who'd have thought that?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:37 PM on September 8, 2010


In the post-war planning period clearances of inner-city working class areas were systematic, public housing estates have been pushed out to the margins of central areas.

This is the story in Australia...everywhere else, poorer people live in inner-city areas, and the wealthy live out in the suburbs. Here, the wealthy take over the inner-city areas, and the poor are pushed out to the margins. Not helpful.

If inner-city, leftist ideologues want more public housing, build it in their inner city backyards, not here

My wife worked at a nursing home, here in Hobart, in a fairly middle-of-the-road suburban neighbourhood, Rosny. The nursing home shut down, and she lost her job. What to do with the old building, though? A plan was launched to turn it into units...public housing. Holy SHIT, you should have seen the reaction from the local NIMBYs at the thought of PUBLIC HOUSING BOGANS moving into their street. The plan's been killed, and now a load of people have an old, empty nursing home sitting on their street.

Makes me want to fucking scream.
posted by Jimbob at 10:41 PM on September 8, 2010


This is the story in Australia...everywhere else, poorer people live in inner-city areas, and the wealthy live out in the suburbs. Here, the wealthy take over the inner-city areas, and the poor are pushed out to the margins. Not helpful.

Not exactly. In Sydney, there's a heap of inner-city public housing, vast swathes of it from Surry Hills down through Redfern & Waterloo. And some of the very best property in the city that would easily be worth millions per house: rows & rows of cute old terraces in the Rocks, many with great CBD & Harbour views.

In Melbourne, they cleverly avoided creating whole suburbs of public housing like Waterloo. Instead, their Suicide Towers are dotted all around - a couple in Fitzroy, a couple in Carlton, a couple behind Prahran, more in Flemington. Spread the joy around.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:53 PM on September 8, 2010


Oh, Glebe, too. About 50% of Glebe seems to be public housing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:53 PM on September 8, 2010


BOGAN-filter
posted by jannw at 11:10 PM on September 8, 2010


Actually you're right. I was surprised when I first learnt of Redfern. It sounded like such an anomaly. Back in Adelaide, anything within 5k of the CBD was the $100k+ zone.
posted by Jimbob at 11:16 PM on September 8, 2010


I grew up in Glebe, UbuRoivas (in the now-gentrified part, not the Glebe Estate).

Sydney's inner city housing estates have a fascinating history, and it's a lot more complicated than preservation of working class areas by the NSW Housing Commission. The Glebe Estate for instance used to be owned by the Anglican Church, and was sold to the Government only in the postwar era. There's lots of public housing near the coast at La Perouse which reflects the nineteenth century moving-on of the Aboriginal community from central Sydney---Redfern/Waterloo has a later, but similarly Aboriginal history. For the Rocks public housing (and what's left in the Cross), thank the BLF and the construction unions greenbanning in the '70s.

The other thing about the inner-city public housing communities is that they're very old, in establishment, but also in demographics. In Glebe/Ultimo there's strong priority given to large families, and vulnerable elderly people, so the community's dominated by very large, tightly-knit extended families, with high Aboriginal and Pacific Islander representation, and by very old single people with medical problems living alone (close to RPAH).

Glebe's doing OK, so is Redfern, similarly. Public housing's dominated by people who've been able to plug into communities and systems of social assistance, that's why they're there. It's true that Refern and Glebe have some very serious problems, thinking particularly of domestic violence and kids doing stupid crimes, but they don't have the same level of social exclusion as you see in the Blacktown LGA or down in Campbelltown/Camden.

In general there has been a process in Sydney exactly as Jimbob's described it: a pushing of vulnerable people to the peripheries, away from services and opportunity.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:25 PM on September 8, 2010


I'm trying to work out how this plays out, at a political level. Do Labor ignore them because they know they've always got their vote, no matter what? (My local booth scored a 72% primary vote for Labor) Do Liberals ignore them because they know they're never going to get their vote? (Occam's Razor... they probably just ignore them because they're Tory bastards.)
posted by Jimbob at 2:55 AM on September 9, 2010


BOGAN-filter

Yes, like the sign on a local pub that says "dress code: no thongs or singlets"

In general there has been a process in Sydney exactly as Jimbob's described it: a pushing of vulnerable people to the peripheries, away from services and opportunity.

And one of the ongoing battles around the Redfern-Waterloo area is the (developer-friendly) State government's continual efforts to shift the public housing from that area to way out west somewhere. All in the name of providing better housing, of course, and nothing to do with the fact that The Block, for example, is within walking distance of the CBD & Sydney Uni, and right next to a train station with services to everywhere, not to mention the weekly farmers' market in the old train sheds...
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:34 AM on September 9, 2010


The strangest thing. I grew up in a small company town. The downsizing got worse year after year, so almost everyone you knew, their parents were on the edge. Housing trust houses dominated the town, and they weren't in great nick. It had all of the consequences you'd expect. To put it circumspectly, we had issues.

At an abstract level, I always knew that the cities weren't necessarily better. But, they were always there, with this promise of opportunity. From a great distance in a small town, Sydney looks like New York. Just maybe, I too might have the chance to live in the big bright place.

Years later, I can't read this without feeling like I've been punched. In my theory of the world, it doesn't happen in the shiny places. Not here. Not in bestest and richest Australia. Not *here*. I've lived with this in the cities in the US and been blase about it, but somehow, I keep buying into the line that Australia really isn't like that. The bush might struggle with the tyranny of distance, but the cities aren't like that. We *don't* do this shit in this country. But we do.

Some days my own naivete surprises me.
posted by mixing at 6:29 AM on September 9, 2010


> This is the story in Australia...everywhere else, poorer people live in inner-city areas

I think another exception to the rule is Paris, isn't it? There's a ring around the outside of the city where the poor live.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2010


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