Aboriginal housing in Perth: From camp life to suburbia
Delmege, S. (2009) Aboriginal housing in Perth: From camp life to suburbia. In: Perspectives on urban life: Connections and reconnections. AIATSIS Conference 2009, 29 September - 1 October 2009, Manning Clark Centre, Australian National University, Canberra.
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As part of an apology to indigenous Australians, on February 13 2008, the Rudd government announced that improving Aboriginal housing was a national priority and fundamental to the success of its “Close the Gap” policy to improve living standards. This paper shows that the current housing ‘crisis’ is part of a longstanding, chronic problem that was created by a controlled neglect. It is an historical account of the physical and social characteristics of camp life and the shift to suburbia that occurred during the second half of the twentieth century. It specifically focuses on the metropolitan area of Perth and south-western towns in Western Australia to show that although Aboriginal camps existed in the metropolitan area of Perth until the 1960s, Aborigines were routinely treated as a ‘nuisance’ and quite invisible in terms of any housing policy or funding until 1953: policy was still hopelessly under-funded in the late 1970s and has been playing catch up ever since.
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