On prized harbourside land in Sydney, a battle is raging. An entire precinct of public housing in one of Australia’s most historic areas is being sold off by the NSW state government. Tenants are being pushed out of homes they have lived in for years. Some are resigned to leave, but many say ‘no surrender!’ – they will not back down and believe they can win the fight to remain in Millers Point and the Sirius Building at Dawes Point.
Forced Out is an intimate character-driven documentary, taking you behind the headlines of the sale. Filmed over two years, we are now campaigning to raise funds to complete this film.
On March 19th, 2014, the face of Sydney changed forever. On the Cahill expressway, Minister for Housing, Pru Goward, announced the biggest sale of public housing in Australia’s history, a decision that would see almost 500 vulnerable and elderly residents evicted from their homes. Behind her lay Millers Point, Dawes Point and the iconic Sirius building, all in the firing line. The Barangaroo development site loomed in the background, a silent player in this political game of money, greed and power. The forced evictions have affected people in different ways. Some have grabbed the chance to leave with enthusiasm, but for most residents it has been upsetting, disorienting and even life threatening. Their worlds have been turned upside down. As filmmakers we set out to pursue the legal and economic ramifications of the sale, as well as observe the changes in the community. Through our characters we see Department’s lack of maintenance in the homes. Roofs falling down, grass growing out of gutters, and rising damp and mould running rampant. Seeing this long-term destruction, we start asking questions. Why have these houses been left to decay? Why have so many been vacant for so long? Why does the final eviction date coincide with the completion of James Packer’s casino, just minutes away at the controversial Barangaroo development?Social and urban planners around the world have recognised good cities as being layered, complex, fine-grained and both functionally and demographically mixed. Social mix and diversity is the key to a good city. Low-income people need to be urban, close to services and transport. Just as crucially, this city – any city - needs low-income people, for work, for mix, for vitality. FORCED OUT will provide a personal look inside the lives of those at the heart of the sale. This is the biggest public housing sale any government has ever proposed and will utterly transform a 200-year-old part of Sydney. It is an important Australian story about a community of underdogs seeking social justice and taking on the big guns. It is representative of a bigger fight many communities face around Australia.
We believe that human health and social well-being is inextricable linked to membership of a vibrant mixed community with a mix of private, affordable public and aged care housing. Such a community has existed in Millers Point, a suburb on the verge of Sydney’s historic precinct for over 150 years. Arguably, it is not too late to save the area’s distinct identity, and targeted philanthropic support can only but contribute to putting these issues on the public agenda.
Aims & Objectives
Our aim is to draw attention to and instigate debate on the escalating national crisis of housing affordability and sustainability for people on low income. We want to shine a light on the very concept of Aussie egalitarianism. It is often said that a society is judged by how it treats its disadvantaged and its minorities. There is a dramatic undersupply of public housing in inner cities of Australia. There is a lack of transparency and no security of tenure for tenants. We want to advocate a charter for human rights for tenants of public housing to be applied across Australia.
The film will draw attention to the physical and mental health costs for relocated social housing tenants, particularly those who are elderly or with long histories in the area. It will also highlight the need for a sizeable stock of public housing to be based in well serviced, accessible and job-rich areas. The film’s impact will be measured by the amount of debate it stimulates in the wider community, and how it contributes to changing public policy.
We want this film to play an important and incisive role in contributing to raise awareness about the issue of public housing, and how facilitating a mix of residents of different backgrounds and incomes within the city has valuable benefits both to society and the economy in general. We want to appeal to a wide range of organisations, foundations and individuals who may be able to assist us in ensuring a wide circulation of the film.
There is a growing demand for low cost housing in the inner city, where a high percentage of service industry jobs are found. If low cost housing is not sustained in these areas wage earners have to travel long distances to work, which in the long term is counter productive to families and the community. It will also be used as an education resource for Universities in teaching the importance of city planning and architecture, to inspire students to think of innovative ways to create more public housing and affordable housing.