Shelter from the Storm: Bryan Brown, Samoan Chieftains and the Little Matter of a Roof over Our Heads

Shelter from the Storm: Bryan Brown, Samoan Chieftains and the Little Matter of a Roof over Our Heads

Shelter from the Storm: Bryan Brown, Samoan Chieftains and the Little Matter of a Roof over Our Heads

Shelter from the Storm: Bryan Brown, Samoan Chieftains and the Little Matter of a Roof over Our Heads

Synopsis

Shelter from the Storm tells the story of public housing through vivid profiles of twenty Australians whose only common denominators are their connection with public housing and interesting life stories.

Excerpt

In 1997, Joan Ferguson, then Executive Director of the nsw Federation of Housing Associations, decided to commission a book about people in public and community housing. Years of meeting tenants had made her realise what a colourful, diverse bunch they were, their lives so much more interesting and complex than the stereotyped image in the media. But the book was no indulgence. It made good business sense: if people knew who the recipients were, and how and why they lived there, they would then appreciate the purpose and benefits of social housing. Widespread public support might then halt the continuing decline in government funding for the sector.

Because of my varied background in oral history, I was approached to record the interviews and write them up. I was to select a wide range of past or present tenants, of different ages, viewpoints, social and cultural backgrounds and geographical locations, in diverse public and community housing situations. a few of them should be well-known figures. All of the interviews were to focus on personal stories. Otherwise I had carte blanche, full editorial freedom and creative control.

I was immediately interested—it was an unmapped area and I would meet an eclectic array of people. But I was also attracted by how universal the topic was: the fundamental human need for shelter. When I started interviewing people, I was surprised and moved by their candour. Their unflinching openness about their mistakes and misfortunes and their hard-won insights are illuminating for us all.

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