A contemporary forced urban removal: The displacement of public housing residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government

In this Shelter Brief, Prof Morris, presents, in their own words, the experiences of a sample of Millers Point residents involved in the recent forced removal of public tenants.

The research arose out of discussions with the Millers Point Community Working Party.  Shelter agreed to publish it so that it will be in the public domain.  The research (which received ethics approval from UTS) draws on semi-structured in-depth interviews with 13 residents who have moved from Millers Point and 6 residents who have thus far resisted the move.

The report provides a background to the Millers Point community and an account of the controversy surrounding the decision to relocate the public tenant community and to sell the properties.  But mainly it focusses on the way that the decision and its implementation has been experienced by the residents – from the announcement, their views of the decision, the process of relocation, the reasons for either agreeing or refusing to go, and  the experience of having left the community. It also maps out the pressure being experienced by residents who have thus far resisted the intense pressure to move.

Despite sometimes positive responses to the relocation officers, overall the process was generally experienced as brutal, causing tremendous stress and distress. While some are happy with their move and most welcomed the better quality homes (a common sentiment was that their homes in Millers Point were badly neglected), the overwhelming experience reported by the Millers Point residents who have moved is of loss, isolation and loneliness. 

The question that remains unanswered is why residents, especially older, long-term residents, with deep attachment to the area were not allowed to remain.