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Shelter from the Storm

Bryan Brown, Samoan chieftains and the little matter of a roof over our heads

Shelter from the Storm by Siobhan McHugh
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Samoan chieftains patrol their notorious Campbelltown estate singing beautiful harmonies to deter crime. The children of the Flower Children in Nimbin swap hippie communes for modern apartments. A war widow works as a cleaner for 32 years to become the first woman in NSW to buy her government home. Aged Vietnamese, displaced as respected elders and alienated from their Westernised children live together in a co-operative. A lesbian ex-police officer raises the child of her violent former partner in a coastal retreat. A Bosnian refugee exults in her new life in Pyrmont and an Aussie film star remembers learning to perform - 'when the welfare bloke called'.

In Shelter from the Storm Siobhan McHugh tells the compelling stories of past and present tenants of social housing. Told with honesty and humour, they provide unique insights into the extraordinary qualities of ordinary people and the diversity of Australian society. Teachers, artists, taxi drivers; Muslims, Catholics, Mormons; Iraqis, Australians and Russians; old and young people; orphans and divorcees are amongst the people to be found in public and community housing. Former tenants who have gone on to become tall poppies also tell their story: maverick Labor politician Mark Latham, media mogul John Alexander, union leader Jennie George and actor and celebrity Bryan Brown.

Luminaries and larrikins, rebels and refugees, they have all been battlers - but losers, never.

Allen & Unwin; October 1999
224 pages; ISBN 9781741764772
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Title: Shelter from the Storm
Author: Siobhan McHugh