In 2013, Radio Skid Row celebrated its 30th birthday. Over the years, we’ve watched our broadcast area change…A LOT.
Two years earlier, an incident occurred in Marrickville. A brick was thrown through the window of a new café, and the words “F**K OFF YUPPIES” were graffitied on the wall. The area was changing and the locals—many of them our listeners—were not happy.
Gentrification seems inevitable but there are still many on the ground fighting for the areas you have built. In solidarity with these communities we chose to document the fight.
We’ve produced 5 one-hour documentaries focusing on 5 suburbs in our broadcast area that are dealing with the impacts of gentrification. We chose to look at Marrickville, Redfern, Glebe, Leichhardt and Millers Point. Some areas are too far gone, others are right in the midst of a battle, some struggles have been going on for thousands of years.
On this site you’ll find extra articles, photos and audio interviews about the issue of gentrification in cities in Australia and around the world.
The Project Team
Nicola Joseph came up with the project concept and was the executive producer of the series. She also produced the documentary on Millers Point and was head mixer on most of the other documentaries. Nicola was a founding member of Radio Skid Row and played a key role in establishing the station. She has worked at the ABC as a features and documentary producer and as the Executive Producer of women’s and arts programs, and was a journalist, executive producer and station manager at SBS radio.
Thara Mogwe another one of Radio Skid Row’s most talented and experienced producers did all of the groundwork for the project including the research, and interviews with historians and politicians. Thara has worked across the radio industry at public, community and commercial radio stations.
Barbara McGrady was the project photographer. Barbara is a Kamilaroi woman who was born in Mungindi, North/Western NSW on the QLD border. She started taking photos as a teenager and has continued to combine her photography with her activism, covering issues that affect Indigenous Australia, human rights, politics and sports Anna Schinella produced the radio program on Leichhardt. Anna was involved at Radio Skid Row soon after it started and became a key person in organising ethnic communities at the station. She has also worked as an Executive Producer and Presenter at ABC Radio National and as a Program Manager at SBS Radio.
Giladesi Namokoyi aka Kween G is an experienced MC, rapper and radio broadcaster/producer. Apart from doing interviews for the project, Kween produced the documentary on Marrickville. Kween has worked for SBS and is a radio trainer. Isobel Deane was the street journalist on the project. She has been a presenter at Radio Skid Row and was on the station’s programming committee. She has also worked at one of the peak organisations for community broadcasting.
Huna Amweero created all of the online content for the project. She started broadcasting at Radio Skid Row when she was five years old and continued to present an after school show throughout primary school. She later became a presenter at Fbi radio and has worked in social media in commercial radio. She now works as a writer and filmmaker.
Osamah AlAsadi was the web designer for the project. Osamah works on various community websites, including the Radio Skid Row site.
Program 1 – Marrickville
For over a decade, Marrickville has been the frontier for the gentrification creep. If you’ve lived in Marrickville for more than 20 years, you probably remember when the first white-Australian family moved into your street – or maybe you were that white family?
Look at Marrickville and you’ll see the results of what is just getting underway in surrounding suburbs like Dulwich Hill and Petersham. Once considered the affordable option close to the city, Marrickville property prices now average $1 million. This change in the area has caused a shift in the demographics of the area. In 2014, Mayor Jo Haylen addressed the changes in the area, conceding that “our traditional diversity is diminishing.”
The ethnic communities that make Marrickville unique (Greek, Vietnamese) move to other areas, and the businesses that service those communities suffer. Those businesses once fetishized are being pushed out to make way for cafes and restaurants that want to maximise on those residents too scared to go into local stores without a Food Safari guide.
The Marrickville program looks at the last stages of the clash between the old and new Marrickville. We look at new café Cornersmith and the vandalism it experienced when it opened, as well as talk to our local Federal member Anthony Alabanese.
Program 2 – Millers Point
During the time of the project, many things happened in the station’s broadcast area that meant the focus of an area had to change slightly. For example, we had planned on doing some work in Woolloomooloo but then the NSW Government decided to sell off Millers Point housing estate and a major campaign was launched. It was a story we could not ignore. Many people say Millers Point is just the beginning and that state-owned housing will be sold in other areas such as nearby Woolloomooloo.
Program 3 – Redfern
The struggle being fought in Redfern right now goes much deeper than locals vs. yuppies. This fight is about the situation of Indigenous people in Australia and their right to their land.
Deemed the most unliveable part of Sydney in the 1960s, Redfern was an industrial precinct that became the site of forced assimilation for Aboriginal people being moved into the city. As the community grew, it became a home and a bastion for great social and political work of the 60s and 70s. When the Whitlam government gave the community the deeds to “The Block” it became the first and largest urban land rights victory. By 1973 the community had established numerous services in Redfern, including the Aboriginal legal service, medical service, housing company, children’s services and the Black Theatre.
The importance of Redfern to our city’s history cannot be denied. It is a visible manifestation of Black history and a concrete symbol of the Black presence in Australia. In a country where our Black history and culture is so disregarded, fighting for areas like Redfern is not a fight against change but a battle against extinction.
At the time we started the project, the original Aboriginal community had been moved out of the Aboriginal-owned settlement known as ‘The Block’. Still owned by the Aboriginal Housing Company, the land was now earmarked for a new development, which at this stage did not include housing for Indigenous people. An Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established to stop the new development until housing for locals is included. This story formed the basis of our coverage of Redfern.
Program 4 – Leichardt
Leichhardt used to be a neighbourhood where you knew all your neighbours. In our Leichhardt edition of There Goes the Neighbourhood, one resident states, ‘My grandparents live next door and my uncle lives across the road.’
Leichhardt is known for being a tight-knit community of (mostly) Italian migrants. The influx of Italians in the 1950s and 60s really brought Leichhardt to life. Restaurants, butchers, great gelato and other Italian-run businesses provided Sydney with a vibrant display of Italian culture.
Its proximity to the city and distinct character led to the gentrification of Leichhardt in the mid 90s. Although working class, Leichhardt was viewed as a safe yet diverse option for liberal but wealthy residents to move in, many of them renovating the old houses and factories.
Like many areas in this program, gentrification caused a change in the kinds of businesses that made up Leichhardt and its famous Norton Street strip. The Italian-owned businesses that had built Leichhardt are being pushed out… along with the residents.
Program 5 – Glebe
Another area that many say is likely to lose most of its state-owned housing in Glebe. Home to Indigenous, migrant and working class families for decades, Glebe has history with urban development that makes it an interesting case of both renewal and gentrification. In the 1970s, housing owned by the Anglican church was bought by the Whitlam Government, which, under the guidance of Tom Uren, saw it become a successful site for urban renewal geared towards working class families. That community housing was later sold to the NSW State Government. Like all other housing estates covered in this series, Glebe’s public housing is the cause of much debate due to the rising value of inner-city housing. What we are seeing in Glebe is the gentrification of the area down by the water, while the end closer to Broadway is still home to working class families who have lived in the area since the days of the Whitlam government. Highly-valued old mansions and boarding houses are being renovated, while the changing businesses are pushing the area towards a different lifestyle. These changes have also seen a period of decline in the care and money going into public housing. Houses are not being maintained for residents, instead being left to decay. The Glebe edition of the program looks at the residents still in Glebe who give it a strong political and cultural history, and comments on what the future may hold for Glebe.
This production was made possible with support from the Community Broadcasting Foundation. Find out more at cbf.org.au