Shelter

A collection of interviews about housing and the idea of ‘home’ in Sydney

Shelter
Ron SewellCity of Sydney Archives NSCA CRS 51/659

The history of a city can be traced through a history of its housing. From caves and bark huts to slums, cottages, dormitories, mansions and flats, dwellings in Sydney embody untold social and economic forces. As singles, couples, families, groups and collectives, Sydney people have lived in rented, experimental, privately-owned, mobile, public, institutional, makeshift and open-air accommodation. These physical spaces contain many layers including stories about shifting patterns of industry and economic boom and bust; and changing aesthetics and ideas about what constitutes the perfect ‘home’. In this group of interviews Sydney-siders talk about private residential space in their city: ideals, identity, memory, status and security; along with big picture issues affecting housing in the City of Sydney.

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  • Ron Sewell

    Ron Sewell

    This interview with Ron Sewell is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. The HPIC telephone referral service was able to assist Ron on his discharge from prison by ascertaining there were no hostel beds available and then directing him to the YWCA for temporary accommodation and other assistance. He discusses that experience in the excerpt below.

  • Basile, Carol

    Carol Basile

    This interview with Carol Basile is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. At the time of the interview Carol was manager of the YWCA’s Homeless Brokerage Programme in central Sydney. In the excerpt below Carol describes the programme and the way in which it worked closely and successfully with HPIC at the City of Sydney.

  • Parraguez, Mauricio 2

    Mauricio Parraguez

    This interview with Mauricio (Maurice) Parraguez is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. At the time of the interview Maurice was Co-ordinator of HPIC services for the City of Sydney. In the excerpt below Maurice recalls extra-curricular appeals initiated by HPIC staff to assist some of Sydney’s long term homeless people.

  • Smith, Kaylean 2

    Kaylean Smith

    This interview with Kaylean Smith is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. At the time of the interview Kaylean was HPIC’s Senior Referral Officer. In the excerpt below she talks about the effect on homelessness of the ever-increasing cost of real estate in Sydney.

  • Giles, Elizabeth 2

    Liz Giles

    This interview with Liz Giles is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Liz was manager of the Homelessness Unit at the City of Sydney, within which HPIC sat. In the excerpt below Liz talks about the character traits of the staff who answered the always busy phones in HPIC.

  • Elaine Armstrong

    Elaine Armstrong

    Elaine Armstrong is President of the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales which has a building offering accommodation in Potts Point. In this interview she talks about the history and work of the Association and her reasons for joining. In the excerpt below, Elaine discusses the reasons for country people availing themselves of the hotel-style rooms the organisation provides.

  • Raine, Max

    Max Raine

    Max Raine has been a very well known Sydney real estate agent for many decades. In the excerpt below he describes the Sydney housing market in the years after World War II.

  • Jack Bell seated at table 2012

    Jack Bell

    Jack Bell, born in 1914, built a house in the Rosebery Estate in 1940.
    In this interview he discusses his sixty seven years in the house on Ripon Way, family life, the meaning home has for him and many other aspects of life in inner Sydney, including the dramatic hailstorm of 1999. In the excerpt below he recalls specific details about buying land and designing and building a house during WWII, and regulations governing residences in the Rosebery Estate.

  • IanMilliss

    Ian Milliss

    Ian Milliss was active in the Victoria St squats of the 1970s.
    The squatting action followed forced evictions which made way for large scale residential development in Potts Point. In his interview Ian talks about the politics, art, personalities and background to those and other related events. In the excerpt below he recalls finding some touching reminders of the evicted tenants.

  • Ann Symonds looking north

    Ann Symonds

    Ann Symonds lives in The Astor in Macquarie St.
    The Astor is a high status heritage listed block of residential apartments in Sydney’s Macquarie St. A former member of the NSW Parliament’s Upper House, Ann talks in her interview about places she has lived, her work in government and retirement, and the special issues and restrictions encountered when living in a historic building. In the excerpt below she discusses the benefits of medium-rise living in the CBD.

  • Richard Childs 1

    Richard Childs

    Richard Childs and his wife embraced terrace house dwelling and communal living in the 1970s. In this interview Richard recalls a suburban childhood, moving to then down-at-heel inner-city Glebe, the complex task of returning a large Victorian dwelling, converted into several smaller flats, to its former grandeur and his reasons for moving to an apartment in Pyrmont. In the excerpt below he recalls general philosophical climate of the ’70s.

  • Robert McEntyre1

    Robert McEntyre

    Robert McEntyre grew up on the rooftop of a Sydney office block in the 1950s, courtesy of his grandfather’s role as building caretaker. In this interview Robert recalls the pleasures of a childhood lived on top of Wingello House in Angel Place, neighbours, family and entertainment. In the excerpt below he remembers the house, play areas and the thrills of Cracker Night in the CBD.

  • Dan McNamara

    Dan McNamara & Jane Dillon

    Jane Dillon and Dan McNamara were architecture students involved in building the ‘Autonomous House’ at Sydney University in the 1970s, an experiment in sustainable living. In their interview they discuss the practicalities of creating a building with little professional expertise; the experience of sharing the residential space and many other related issues including gardening, events, significant people and academic life of the period. In the excerpt below they reflect on earlier utopian movements which influenced their practice, and the ideological background to the creation of the Autonomous House.

  • AnnJordan

    Sr Anne Jordan

    This interview with Sr Anne Jordan is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Anne runs Cana Communities in inner Sydney, which works with HPIC and other agencies. In the excerpt below Anne talks about the kinds of homeless people who might be assisted by Cana Communities’ shelters.

  • Fleming, Elma

    Elma Fleming

    This interview with Elma Fleming is part of an oral history project celebrating 25 years of the Homeless Persons Information Centre [HPIC]. The project was conducted in 2009. HPIC was a telephone referral service operated by the City of Sydney for people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. Elma co-ordinated the Crisis Centre at the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross for many years and in that role had frequent contact with HPIC. In her interview Elma talks about her childhood and professional life, day-to-day life at the Chapel, and her many experiences with homeless people in Sydney. In the excerpt below she describes some of the personal circumstances that can contribute to homelessness.

  • MargotCurrey300

    Margot Currey

    Margot Currey is an artist who lives in a housing cooperative in Erskineville. In this interview she recalls the different houses in which she has lived, the logistics, finances and background to the purpose-built apartment block which she now calls home; and the practical and bureaucratic challenges to co-operative dwelling in New South Wales. In the excerpt below she outlines the many benefits of living in a co-operative.