Melbourne public housing lockdown reconsidered

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When we moved to Australia from Los Angeles in 2017, one of the things my first 14-year-old son noticed was his peers’ attitudes about money – and housing in particular. When someone asked him where he lived in Melbourne, my son used a large public housing tower at the end of our street as a landmark, saying “I lived a block behind those commissioned flats” Am. ” His classmates immediately started teasing him, stating that he actually lived in public housing.

My son felt this very bad. In Los Angeles he attended a large public school with students from across the economic spectrum. But in LA, it was his friends who lived in large homes in the Los Feliz hills who were uneasy about their circumstances, reducing the wealth of their families. There was a certain pride in the children coming from little money, it was a great honor to know that their achievements were not thanks to their economic achievements.

I kept thinking about those teasing classmates as I reported the story published this week Lockout in public housing towers of Flemington and North Melbourne, Melbourne. Many of the residents I spoke with had a real understanding that the wider community considered them inferior – an understanding that made the most of their treatment during the lockdown.

Ever since the story was published, a lot Conversation on twitter And in the comments, how successful Melbourne’s response to the virus has been, and how this lockdown was a necessary part of that response. Interestingly, I heard the same thing from the residents of most of the towers, who were all particularly community-minded. Ther issue was not with the lockdown itself but the way it was implemented, and treated them in different ways, compared to other African residents. The words I heard the most often were how it made them feel: other, less, disposable.

Visiting the North Melbourne Tower was particularly interesting, as I spent a lot of time as a young teenager in the late 1980s. I had a friend who lived there, and I remember it as a desolate place. Now it feels completely different – the lobby is tidy, and a lush community garden leads to one side of the grounds. Everyone I spoke to was studying at a university or running a nonprofit or helping to organize and uplift their community – or all three of those things. It felt like a place of hope – which it was not at all when I spent time with my friend 30 years ago.

When I asked North Melbourne Tower resident Barry Berih if he felt supported or neglected by the wider community during the lockdown, his answer surprised me: he asked young people in Melbourne heavily on social media and float references The amount of support he felt was showing people in person to help him. There was a liberal divide, he thought, but it made him optimistic that the young people considered the Tower residents worthy of sympathy and respect.

I thought of my son’s classmates, and hoped that Mr. Berih was right.

The stories of this week are as follows:

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