By Brendan Gleeson
The inaugural winner of The Iremonger Award for Writing on Public matters, this can be a provocative exploration of urbanised Australia and a passionate plea for the suburbs to accept their rightful position in Australia's public cognizance.
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Additional resources for Australian Heartlands: Making space for hope in the suburbs
An emergent commentary, including Stretton’s Ideas for Australian Cities, began to point to the inequities in service access and environmental amenity that marked the suburban landscape. Attention was focused on the confinement of the working classes in poorer residential subregions and on the service deprivation endured in new outer fringe estates. 32 But there were places such as Sydney’s northern beaches where the classes were mixed, and social cleavages were modest. And by international standards, Australia’s suburbanites generally enjoyed good quality environments.
He tends to stress the political and economic axes of change. And yet, just as profound were the deep transformations to Australia’s cultural make-up and outlook. In particular, the shift in the 1970s from assimilation to multiculturalism as official policy ideals marked a cultural change that many Australians struggled to comprehend, and which eventually produced a series of political backlashes. By the middle of the twentieth century, much of the bright confidence that had characterised colonial Australia had been subdued under a greyish mantle of insecurity and timidity.
The increasingly polyglot class geographies emerging in Australia’s principal urban regions are rendering these traditional regional markers of social distinction increasingly redundant. At the same time, the ageing middle ring suburbs within traditionally poorer subregions have begun to host increasing concentrations of an expanding pauper class. After years of patient empirical observation, Bill Randolph has produced powerful and disturbing analyses of the suburbanisation of disadvantage in the declining and neglected middle suburbs, such as the subregions of Liverpool and Bankstown in Sydney and Maribyrnong and Darebin Australian Heartlands-PAGES 6/3/06 2:03 PM Page 45 THE GREAT AUSTRALIAN UNSETTLEMENT 45 in Melbourne, that were largely built between the 1930s and 1960s.