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Shelter From the Storm: Bryan Brown, Samoan Chieftains and the little matter of a roof over our heads

by Siobhan McHugh, 1999

What do Bryan Brown, Jennie George, John Alexander, a disabled single mother and a group of Samoan chieftains all have in common? They have all lived, or still live, in public housing. These vivid profiles of twenty Australians provide a unique insight into the extraordinary qualities ordinary people must have to overcome adversity. 

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. 

SIOBHAN McHUGH is an acclaimed freelance writer and broadcaster. Her books on Australian social history have achieved both high sales and critical acclaim. They include "The Snowy", about the multicultural workforce that built the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme (winner of the NSW State Literary Award for Non-Fiction, 1990)," Minefields and Miniskirts", the untold stories of Australian women in the Vietnam War, and "Cottoning On", an investigation into cotton-growing in NSW (short listed for the NSW Premier's History Awards, 1997). Currently she is co-writing a five-hour series on the Irish Diaspora,"The Irish Empire". This international co-production will be seen on SBS in 1999. 

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 1865081604 
Pages : 224 
Format : 230X176 
Publication : OCT 99 
ISBN: 186-508-1604 
Federation copies - out of print.

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