Graeme Goodsell

Graeme Goodsell is an architect who was born 1943. After working in private enterprise he took up a position with the Housing Commission of New South Wales [now Housing NSW]. In his interview he talks about many aspects of management of historic housing, his work with public housing buildings in other parts of Sydney, in-fill and rehabilitation of old buildings; arguments about pragmatism vs preservation; relative costs; urban renewal; differing government approaches to public housing and concepts of social and welfare housing. In the excerpt below he recalls the disruption caused within the Millers Point community when the Department of Housing [now Housing NSW] took over management of properties formerly managed by the Maritime Services Board.

This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.

Well as I’ve said before it [Millers Point] is a company town. Certainly most of the people down there knew each other in some way or other, because they were related, because they hated each other, because they worked with each other, or whatever. Certainly, like a mining town, company town, people knew each other and families knew each other for many generations and so, as I say, I characterise it as a company town.

So that people coming in from the outside to tell them what to do with their housing was confrontational and new tenants coming in who had absolutely no association, they felt, with Millers Point, or with their families, or the families that were there before them was also confrontational. That is something we tried as best we could to counter but yes, it must have been confrontational if you were on a wicket and had been for umpteen generations and your parents and their parents before them had dealt with the Maritime Services Board – a new organisation coming in which was seen as a welfare housing organisation who housed people who were not only poor and destitute but sometimes had problems, physical, mental, whatever, was confrontational and some of them objected to that mightily.

Frank Heimans