Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cathy Come Home

We're all only a few paycheques away from the street, and the Ken Loach directed Cathy Come Home illustrates the point powerfully. Today marks 50 years since it was first broadcast as the BBC's The Wednesday Play on 16th November, 1966 and Cathy Come Home makes a timely addition to the Institute of Tenancy Culture Studies.
Cathy, Reg and the kids
Although it was based in England of the 1960s, the issues resonate strongly here today. Families make up increasing numbers of tenants. Insecure tenancy laws and precarious employment situations mean more families than ever live with the fear and the risk of losing their homes in the private rental market. Housing policies which rely on a poorly regulated private rental sector to house vulnerable people can only exacerbate that vulnerability.

The chief lesson taught by Cathy Come Home appears to remain unlearned 50 years after the film's release. Perhaps it is that we have forgotten it is both unfair and ultimately ineffectual to expect the people surviving the effects of a society's structural failures to simply overcome. This is as true in housing and homelessness as it is in gender issues, employment, or our ongoing relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The original owner-occupiers of Australia are now mostly living in rented housing and, recalling the final scenes of Cathy Come Home, children are being removed from Aboriginal families at far higher rates than any others.

The full film is available here, and runs for a little over an hour:

1 comment:

  1. good to see this! C'mon Mr Baird!


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