2016, Melbourne: Mess The West II Fest Squatting Talk

From December 1-4 the Mess The West II Fest will be held at venues in Footscray and Yarraville. Celebrating DIY culture and resistance it will include a cafe night, bands, performances, a warehouse party, workshops and a flea market.

Amongst a bunch of workshops held at Hot Shots (corner Buckley and Nicholson Streets, Footscray) on December 3rd there will be talks from 4-5pm about squatting in Melbourne in the 1980s, Sydney in the early 2000s and campaigns around the country that happened in the 1940s. More info about the festival is available here.

back3 timetable

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1970s, Sydney and Brisbane- Squatting Talk

In the following talk Margaret, Peter and Jessica share their memories of squatting in Sydney and Brisbane during the 1970s. The talk was recorded by by Laurel at the Squatting Past and Present gathering held at Hot Shots on August 27 2016.


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1974, Sydney- Elsie: Australia’s First Women’s Refuge

Australia’s first domestic violence shelter, dubbed ‘Elsie’, was set up in squatted properties in Glebe in 1974. The following article by Mandy Sayers, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, on April 12 2014 discusses the women and children it has supported over 40 years and how it came to be set up.


40 years of Elsie, Mandy Sayers

Australia’s first women’s refuge was opened in 1974, and today the need for shelters is as great as ever.

My stepfather used to beat my mother and me so badly that she tried to commit suicide three times. The last attempt landed her in intensive care. By that time, we’d been abused for three years and there had been nowhere to turn: neighbours, clergy and even the police refused to get involved in what they considered mere domestic disputes.

As my mother was recovering, she read an article in The Australian Women’s Weekly about a woman’s shelter called Elsie in Sydney’s inner west. A few nights later, after my stepfather went into yet another violent rage, threatening to drop my baby brother into boiling water, my desperate mother dragged us in our pyjamas out into a thunderstorm, hailed a cab, threw us in, and told the driver to step on it. An hour later we were sitting in the living room of Elsie, weeping with relief.

I’m back here because it’s now 40 years since the opening of Elsie, the first refuge in Australia to provide urgent assistance to battered wives and children. In an upstairs room, I’m listening to a current resident, Marie*, recounting what happened to her: “I’ve been bitten, had my ribs broken, and my back’s been kicked so badly I can’t feel my spine.” She glances out the window and shudders. “It started on our honeymoon and lasted all of 22 years.” Marie, 45, only fled her violent husband a few weeks ago. Perched beside her on the couch are Sophia*, 19, and Lucy*, 15, also victims of their father’s constant abuse.

Back in 1974, the only place abused women and children could find temporary shelter was at a Salvation Army facility, which provided a bed for the night but banned traumatised families from residing there during the day, and provided no health, legal or social services. Most women ended up returning to their violent partners.

Feminist Anne Summers was then a 29-year-old post-graduate student at Sydney University when she saw a documentary based on Erin Pizzey’s Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear, about domestic abuse in England. As a result, after a two-day Women’s Commission Conference, plans were made to start a refuge in Sydney.


Summers was aware of the Chiswick Women’s Aid shelter in London, the first of its kind in the world, and phoned the shelter to ask for advice. “I’ll never forget it,” says Summers, now 69, sitting in the dining room of her Potts Point terrace. “There were kids screaming in the background – all kinds of noise – and when I asked the woman how to set up a refuge, she replied, emphatically, ‘Just do it!’ ” Read more »

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2016: Squatfest, Sydney


A Sydney gathering celebrating squatting and resistance. According to the Facebook event page:

From 2 – 7pm there will be a number workshops about squatting and security culture.  At 5pm there will be a presentation by anarchists and antifascist activists from Burma, and a report on ongoing repression in Malaysia.  At 6pm there’ll be talks on the history of squats and squatting struggles in Sydney and other places. There will be an amazing spread of vegan/vegetarian/gf food available on the day, and a room that will be playing radical documentaries on squatting and resistance all day long.  After 7pm we’re gonna have bands, DJS and a karaoke party.

This event is being organised very quickly in light of the sudden eviction notice, so there is still plenty of space for people who want to perform in whatever capacity, just let us know :) Also anyone who wants to help organising the event, you’re heeaaaps welcome! All money raised at the event will be going towards an anarchist infoshop in Yangoon, Burma, and legal fees for comrades in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia facing repression.

For anyone concerned about attending an event inside a squatted building, we recently got permission from the owner to use the space till at least mid September, so no one need be concerned about “tresspassing”. The building is also in great condition, with no structural defects, despite being scheduled for demolition.

The Intersection.

For more about the event and The Intersection: www.facebook.com/AutonomousIntersection

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2016, Melbourne: Bendigo Street Party, 28 August

To celebrate nearly five months of occupation as well as to maintain pressure on the Victorian government not to evict the 50 or so people living in properties left empty following the cancellation of the East-West tunnel scheme the residents of Bendigo Street are holding a street party.

Bedigo St poster

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2016, Melbourne- Squatting in Australia, Past and Present

augustsquattingeventHot Shots Monthly Skillshare presents: SQUATTING IN AUSTRALIA – PAST AND PRESENT
An afternoon of discussions, talks and skillshares exploring squatting in Australia, its history, current campaigns, practical skills and more.

Lunch available from 12

12:30 – Squatting history
A panel will give short talks about squats and campaigns that occured nationally during the 1940s, in Sydney during the 1970s, and in Melbourne during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

1:45 – Squatting in Melbourne today:
Those involved in squats and related campaigns, groups, radio shows, etc. will discuss what is currently happening in Melbourne and how people can get involved.

3:00-  Squatting, colonisation and gentrification:
A critical discussion about the relationship of squatting to these issues.

4:15- The practical squatter:
A skillshare session looking at the practicalities involved in finding empties, fixing them up, getting essential services connected, dealing with the law and more.

Childcare available! Please let us know if your child will be attending so we can organise childcare…

@ Hot Shots, 16-20 Buckley St, Footscray – Enter via alleyway on Nicholson St.

For more information, to request childcare or if you would like to contribute to the day please email hotshotscollective@riseup.net

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1975, Canberra- Squatters take over politician’s disused investment property

On April 3rd 1975 a dozen squatters took over an empty property in Braddon belonging to Liberal MLA Ray Saunders. As the news articles below demonstrate the politician called in police to eject them within a matter of days, but not before they’d brought the public’s attention to the growing number of evictions occuring in the city. The Low Cost Accomodation Committee followed their action up a week later by holding protests outside and inside the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Thursday April 4 1975 CT

Sat 5 April 1975 CT  Read more »

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1970s, Sydney: Rocking The Foundations

Pat Fiske’s excellent 1985 documentary Rocking The Foundations tells the story of the NSW Builder’s Labourers Federation during the 1970s. Run as a genuinely democratic organisation seeking workers’ control over the direction and outcomes of their labour, the NSW BLF formed alliances with squatters, environmentalists, feminists, Indigenous groups and others before being stamped out by a corrupt coalition of developers, politicians and rival unionists.


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1972-1987, Sydney: A short history of the Glebe Squats

A short history of the Glebe Squats 1972 to 1987

By Bill Holliday.

In 1948, associated with the County of Cumberland plan, the Department of Main Roads (DMR) drew up plans for radial city expressways two of which were the Western Expressway and the North Western Expressway.

Both expressways were to leave the city at Fig Street Ultimo, the flyovers over Darling Harbour are the first stage. The Western was to carry on through Glebe and then through Leichhardt and west towards Parramatta, much the same route as the M4. The North Western was to arch through northern Glebe and then lay waste to Rozelle west of Victoria Road, heading towards Hunters hill and Ryde. At that time the inner city terraces were considered slums and the road was slum clearance.

These expressways would have divided Glebe into three parts. When the DMR got around to actually starting them in the early 1970’s, people were starting to realise the value of living in the inner city  and opposition was forthcoming from locals and university students for whom Glebe was home.

The Glebe Anti-Expressway Committee was formed by students and demonstrations such as marches down Glebe Point Road were held. Meanwhile the DMR was buying up the houses it needed to demolish (many forced sales at undervalued prices) and had left them empty. These houses had been broken into and everything of value had been stripped out of them: marble fireplaces, doors, skirting boards, plumbing, wiring, stoves and water heaters. Even houses which had not yet settled with the DMR, had this treatment.

The Glebe Anti-Expressway Committee managed to get the Builders Labourers Federation to put a Green Ban on any demolition for the expressways in late 1972 and in 1973 instigated the first squat of one of the empty houses in order to prevent further deterioration and an excuse for the DMR to call in the bulldozers. These squatters were evicted and charged but got off. Subsequent squats were not challenged except for two in the original stately home of the area, Lyndhurst in Darghan Street, where the squatters were twice evicted by the cops but not charged as the media was calling it an attempt to save the historic building.

The Glebe Society, the local residents group, were supportive but their support did not extend to squatting.

In 1974, the DMR brought in the bulldozers to demolish houses in Fig Street Ultimo and the Glebe Anti-Expressway Committee got wind of it the day before and organised a blockade to prevent demolition. Thirteen demonstrators were arrested on the roofs of the houses and from the path of the bulldozers and there was extensive coverage in the media. This Whitlam Labor government was in power in Canberra and Tom Uren’s department told the DMR that they would not get any more federal roads grants if they went ahead with the expressways.

Fig St II

As demolitions had been halted, squatting from 1974 onwards was low profile but hectic. It was not unknown for would-be squatters to select a house in the morning only to come back with their stuff in the afternoon to find another group had beaten them to it. In most cases the services had been disconnected so squatters used garden hoses and extension cords from still connected houses. Others dug up the street to reconnect to the water main or dug down to the sewer line to remove concrete tipped there by the DMR. Very soon every house was being lived in.

The houses remained in squatters’ hands for 13 years until 1987 when the DMR finally acknowledged that the expressways were never going to be built in that location and handed the houses over to the NSW Housing Commission. The squatters then became Housing Commission tenants and were moved to other houses nearby while the Commission did total renovations on the structurally sound houses or built new infill housing. These houses still stand today.

Over 13 years, babies were born, children grew up and people started and finished university courses, got jobs and generally got their lives together. A notable success story is Karl Kruszelnicki, originally known as Chevy Karl, for the car that he drove.

Read more »

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South Vietnamese Embassy Squat, Canberra, 1984

Having been abandoned in 1975 after the South Vietnamese government lost power the regime’s former embassy in Canberra sat empty until it was squatted during a demonstration against homelessness by around 200 people in 1984.  Embarassed by the action the Federal ALP government took ownership of the buildings later in the year offering the squatters places in public housing.

April 1984 Canberra squat16 June ACTnla.news-page000013977214-nla.news-article137173709-L3-06d84012adbb740f4a1846d0bd2609d7-0001

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