Community picket stops eviction


By April Bragg and David Mizon
MELBOURNE — On September 21 and 22, a community picket was set up in the Braybrook public housing estate to stop the eviction of a Somali family. The Farah family of five children, their mother and her 70-year-old father arrived in Australia as refugees from Somalia under the Women and Children At Risk program. The family was provided with public housing in the Heidelberg area. While there, the 13-year-old son was stabbed in an act of racially inspired violence. The family later moved to a house in the Braybrook estate, where there is a Somali community, where they have been for the last six months.
Recently, the Office of Housing decided they were queue jumping — despite the fact that the family had been granted eligibility for priority housing — and decided to evict them.
The Office of Housing is trying to establish its authority to move public tenants wherever it wishes, which will assist it in the privatisation of emergency housing. Thirty per cent of the Braybrook estate is to be privatised.
However, having escaped war-torn Somalia, the family were not about to be pushed around by the Office of Housing bureaucracy. Having exhausted legal avenues, they contacted the Western Region Housing Council (WRHC), which began negotiations with the government.
After four weeks of negotiations, the WRHC set up a picket to prevent the imminent eviction, and the government was forced to back down.

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