Residents of the Deakin Avenue social housing development which we manage in Mildura have become living proof of the growing confidence that can come with secure housing and a fresh start.
The two-storey building, owned and built by the Department of Human Services, was the subject of anger and controversy even before it was built, mainly due to community anxiety about the planning and approval processes and concerns from neighbors about privacy.
But ongoing and escalating negative media coverage of the complex prompted residents to tell their side of the story in April.
Mildura Weekly journalist Ben Piscioneri interviewed several of the residents, telling their side of the story for the first time.
The majority of residents at the Deakin Avenue property are aged between 40 and 60 years, and said the perceptions and stigma the negative publicity had generated was unfair and hurtful.
Raymond Peacock, Jason Slorach, Joanne Lambert and Wayne Anderson expressed frustration that the “trouble” for which residents were being blamed was often the result of vandalism and hooliganism from elsewhere.
The residents displayed courage and confidence in putting a human side to the issue, and in the process, underlined the importance of social housing in supporting people from a range of circumstances to re-establish their lives.
As a result of the concerns, several initiatives are under way that will improve the privacy of adjacent properties and the security of residents at the complex.