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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 November 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2015 9 NEWS FEATURE in Australia After arriving in Australia Sofia Damousi spent her working life on the factory floor of the innercity boot trade. to Greece, not uncommon at the time. We eventually ed into more salubrious surroundings in the suburbs of Melbourne. And during the 1970s, the renovators ed in, the prices shot up, and so began my father's laments of lost opportunities in real estate. Our familial connections ere unbroken however, as my parents continued to ork in the inner-city boot trade. But they eventually lost their jobs, falling victim to the end of the economic boom during the 1970s. Century-old factories folded under the pressure of Asian competitors and gave way to eagerly sought-after warehouses and apartments. The changes I have seen reflect the changes in me. I guess it's an obvious point to make, but true nevertheless - our biographies and identities are closely connected with the place within which we spent our formaears. And for me, that is itzroy of my childhood. - as told to Gabrielle Murphy I was the reluctant family interpreter for conveying the unfolding drama of the whereabouts of missing Australian prime minister Harold Holt. In the hot, steamy summer of 1967, we hung around the tiny linoed kitchen with a Kookaburra stove, watching the rolling black and white news reports of the country's leader who had gone for a swim in surging surf and had not emerged. "What, they still haven't n t t found him?" my mother kept asking in disbelief at a nation that could lose a prime minister. The referendum in 1967 to include the Indigenous population in the Commonwealth census passed me by, and perhaps this not surprising. The Aboriginal Legal Service - painted defiantly in Indigenous colours - was around the corner in Gertrude Street, and our daily contact with Aborigines continued. Legislative changes were almost irrelevant on a day-to-day basis to those around us whose communities had been decimated. But certainly the conscience of the middle-classes was beginning to feel guilt, and the political climate had begun to swing. Many years later, sometime in the late 1980s, a close friend of mine told me with great embarrassment that in the ‘60s her school ran bus excursions from her leafy suburb to the slums to see how the poor lived. These children of privilege would arrive, look around at the small, workingman's cottages, the narrow streets, the lack of trees and playgrounds, and answer assignment questions on the geographical differences between the sizes of their houses and those of the poor. Moral judgments would then be passed on the cleanliness or otherwise of the buildings and surrounds. The poor were to be pitied and needed help. We may feel disgust at such an obvious enforcement of class today, but the fact that poor w ‘the poor’ were at least being identified and recognised to be in need of welfare was a far cry from previous views when they were blamed for their lot. The inner-city suburb I knew growing up was a world in flux. I saw many immigrants in our street come and go, back and forth Professor Joy Damousi's most recent book, Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War, will be published by Cambridge University Press on November 30. Professor Joy Damousi is Professor of History, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne. Source: www.pursuit.unimelb.edu.au Joy Damousi started school with no English, but hers was not an unusual situation: most of her classmates were in the same boat. Greek friends and family in the Damousi’s kitchen at Napier Street.
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