Australian Heartlands: Making space for hope in the suburbs by Brendan Gleeson

By Brendan Gleeson

The inaugural winner of The Iremonger Award for Writing on Public matters, this can be a provocative exploration of urbanised Australia and a passionate plea for the suburbs to take delivery of their rightful position in Australia's public cognizance.

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Sample text

Homelessness has increased. Newspapers and TV programs report high levels of anxiety about crime and personal safety in the big cities. Despite recent improvements in unemployment rates, permanent full-time jobs are hard to find. 48 Phase one of the reform program rent the societal fabric deeply, establishing both new socio-economic divisions and instilling deeply in the national psyche a mood—an expectation—of chronic uncertainty. This was also a time of profound demographic and cultural change, only some of which was sourced in the political and economic reforms.

44 Most of these people are struggling in the major cities. But how and where? , with friends or family) and remain unseen to the official eye. Others are simply homeless. And a great many are languishing in unaffordable Australian Heartlands-PAGES 6/3/06 2:03 PM Page 46 46 australian heartlands and often shabby private rental accommodation in the crumbling parts of middle suburbia waiting for the public housing that will probably never come their way. 45 These are the netherworlds of the private rental market, studded with decrepit housing stock and generally wearing the mantle of public neglect.

The concentration of public housing in inner-city high-rise and suburban low-rise estates meant that such areas emerged as new poles of deprivation. New forms of absolute disadvantage also surfaced, notably poverty in the private rental sector, and outright homelessness. Australian Heartlands-PAGES 6/3/06 2:03 PM Page 36 36 australian heartlands At the opposite end of the income spectrum, households in relatively wealthy suburbs tended to weather the economic storm comfortably. , computer software), helped sustain the employment bases of CBDs, whilst the surge in high paying jobs in such sectors increased the demand for housing in inner city areas.

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