August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
John Elliott




I’ve been here for 22 years now, so I must be a local. I ended up here because my husband works here. I married him in 1990 in Singapore but I met him in Rockingham, down South, where my Grandparents used to live. We came up here straight after we married. My parents have been here a couple of times from Singapore and it’s so different for them. I come from busy hustle bustle, everywhere there are shops, here the shops close at five, but there is more night life than there used to be.

It has only been over the last three years that the town has changed and grown rapidly. It used to be very quiet, but now it’s busy. Now I don’t like to drive to Port Hedland because there is too much traffic, too many trucks and everyone is impatient. We never thought we’d be here a long time, my husband said five years, after five years he said another five and we are still here. Hedland is my home now and all my children were born here. I have three children; a girl and two boys. They all live in Perth right now, my youngest boy is in year 12, my girl is in university, and my other son has an apprenticeship. I think they prefer the lifestyle up here and I hope they move back up here one day. But they have an opportunity to get a good education in Perth. I am missing them a lot.

When the kids were growing up we had a lot of quality time together. As a family we would go to the beach, look for fishing bait, fishing, swimming and we take the 4 wheeler for a spin but that can’t happen now because there’s a lot of projects and a lot of land has been cleared for housing. Now the off road trails are limited. 

I work as a Tenant Advocate. I pass on information about any legal changes under the Residential Tenancies Act to the tenant. For example, someone could come in asking for assistance to apply for a Department of Housing house. I help them with that or if someone received a letter about eviction, I will help them to appeal on their own grounds. Private rental in Hedland is not affordable for most people with low or medium income. There is a long wait for people on the public housing as most tenant are long term tenant. Lack of affordable housing means that people are often forced to lead more transient lifestyles as they move between houses and other form of shelter. There are a lot of homeless people in town and part of it is due to overcrowding because there are no other places to live, especially for my Aboriginal clientele. We have a lot of overcrowding and this leads to anti-social behaviour, which can contribute to domestic violence and then homelessness. I would like to retire down south, perhaps in a coastal area, somewhere to fish and enjoy the tranquillity of the sea.

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