Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bidwill: stigma and pride

The ABC has produced a couple of reports on the public housing estate at Bidwill: read here and here, and watch here.

The following quotes caught our eye. Housing NSW Executive Director, Paul Vevers, says of Bidwill:

There aren't role models for young people here.

A 16 or 17-year-old girl or boy if they leave school, the rite of passage for them is that the parents would take them down to Centrelink.

No role models in Bidwill?

What about Samantha Russell, interviewed by the ABC, who's doing year 11 at the local high school, busting down gender stereotypes in the metalwork class, working part-time and looking forward to a career in journalism, and praising her time at school as 'challenging [but] awesome'?

Or Samantha's parents, both of whom are studying at TAFE, with a plan for university and careers after that?

Or the Bidwill residents who have volunteered their labour in the Bidwill Community Garden, or with Habitat for Humanity, or in the weekly community breakfast and other activities organised by Bidwill Uniting, or in any of the other community activities – playgroups, youth groups, parents groups – that try, in difficult circumstances, to make life a bit better in Bidwill?

To say that 'there are no role models for young people' in Bidwill is wrong, and an unwarranted slight on all these good people.

And we have never seen anyone apply to Centrelink for income support as some sort of 'right of passage'.


We asked Mr Vevers if he was quoted correctly. He confirmed that those were his words. He further said:

The point I made is one which Housing NSW and others such as the Auditor General have made many times before, which is that the vast majority of tenants of working age are on Centrelink benefits, with only 5% of all tenants having wages as their main income.  In many families that has been the case for a couple of generations, so young people in those households have never seen a parent or grandparent go to work....

That of course does not mean that there are not other people who stand out and it does not mean that there are not younger people in public housing who are seeking to change that for themselves.

A person out of work can be a role model, in the way they deal with that and the way they go about things at home and in their community. They, and the public housing tenants who do work – despite all the discouragement given by Housing NSW's policies for hiking rents and kicking out wage earners – shouldn't be forgotten when Housing NSW is in the media making points.


  1. When I saw this I thought, what are they up to now, HNSW that is. I Worked in Bidwill many years ago, yes challenging sometimes but there were many many decent people there who I learned from a nd who have much more staying power that I ever did. The first thing that came to mind was, he's batting for the Liberals. They are highlighting this prove their point that the welfare state has to be broken and pointing out to the already bigoted how right they are. They have maligned good people to get their message across and they will use this to justify their cuts. How does one scream on paper?

  2. What else could you expect from HNSW .. we've been of the belief that they think we are just stupid anyway (generally the other way around.

    I've known a number of role models in housing, most have now given up trying, dealing with HNSW in it self is ...frustrating ...infuriating ... depressing and down right confusing . Vevers shouldn't be taking pot shots at the kids but have a real good look at themselves ... but then they are better than us are they not?.

  3. it would surprise me if more then 5% did actually work, mainly due to selection criteria by HNSW.

    also not surprising that there are issues in HNSW 'complexes', what did they think would happen when they put together a large number of people with disabilities etc.

    the comment on foxtel I would like to address. when i wasnt working we had pay tv. this was affordable as i paid it weekly, one week was cheaper then letting the one kid go to the movies. it was our total entertainment, no movies, no hired dvd's, no nights out or take away.

    i also agree with other comments here, just because you dont work doesnt mean you are a 'loser'. not all kids who grow up on welfare expect it when older. any one who has had to deal with centrelink on regular basis knows working is much better, centrelink own you.... you have to jump when they say, suffer no income when they 'lose' paperwork handed in, even when you have stamped copied to show it handed in, much better to be working, vcan then afford the odd treat, like taking the kids to the movies.

    keep up the good work brown counch.

  4. These lazy tenants should be ordered to clean their houses which the taxpayer supplies them with. Cut the lawns and do the garden. They do nothing all day. About time they had money deducted from their welfare payments for maintenance. Why are they not evicted and sent to Darwin or outback Australia to live in tents. |They are not disadvantaged they have everything given to them.

    1. Such gross and crass generalisations add very little to a conversation like this, Anonymous.

  5. There are absolutely wonderful people living in Bidwill. There are great tenants public and private. There are hard working people who first came to Bidwill, through choice, as young home owners, whose families have grown up. They have, or are, about to own their homes. Unfortunately, there are tenants (and home owners) in all areas that do not respect the privelege that this country affords us. Also, it was interesting that the story did not acknowledge that the social worker featured in the story was a FaCS NSW Housing employee.


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