The Brisbane Solidarity Network put out a new edition of their Crisis! handbook at the end of 2016. It includes a squatter’s handbook and crucial information for those experiencing homelessness and chronic poverty about obtaining food, shelter and support. A PDF is available here.
In the following talk Liz provides an account of the 2008-2009 Student Housing Action Co-operative (SHAC) campaign and discusses its background and strategy. For more than five months 50 students were housed at 272-278 Faraday Street Carlton and the space was also used as a social centre and open community space. The squat and its attendant campaign not only put abandoned houses to good use, but also raised the issue of student hardship and homelessness and exposed the failure of Melbourne University (the property’s owner) to address these issues. The talk was recorded by by Laurel at the Squatting Past and Present gathering held at Hot Shots on August 27 2016.
Footage from the SHAC Emergency Rally, 7 January 2009. To follow the campaign as it unfolded, SHAC’s blog from the time can be found here.
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.
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.
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
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.
For more about the event and The Intersection: www.facebook.com/AutonomousIntersection
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.
Hot 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.