A place of my own

Annette Murphy, Doonside tenant
Annette Murphy, Doonside tenant

By Annette Murphy, Doonside tenant

I am originally from Walgett, Northern NSW. In Walgett everyone knows me as ‘Daughter’. I would like to move back to Walgett, but my children and grandchildren are in Sydney, so I will probably stay here.

I have lived in Sydney since I was about 19 years old. I have been living in my current home in Doonside for about 4 years. I rent through the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO).

My home is everything. It’s about having your own space, and independence. I have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. One of my daughters, Venus, lives not far away from me, so I ain't got far to visit her and my grandchildren. My grandchildren also come over on the weekends.

It’s also important that I’m close to the shops so that I can get there in my scooter.

I have a physical disability so some aspects of the property make it difficult for me, particularly with my wheelchair. There is a steep driveway and I have fallen down it a couple of times and hurt my ankle.

Thankfully the AHO has installed a disabled bathroom and it is the best room in the house!

Annette, with her daughter Venus
Annette, with her daughter Venus

A few years ago, I had some issues with my tenancy. AHO were taking money out of my account for an extra person who housing thought had been living there but had not. Because of this, I had to live on $80 per fortnight.

Stephen Fields from the Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants Service (GSATS) has been helping me with my matter. While my dispute was being dealt with, I was stupid and I stopped paying rent. I ended up getting a refund, but it would’ve been bigger if I hadn’t stopped paying rent. I felt comfortable working with Stephen, as I knew him because we both come from Walgett and he was able to help me.

Sometimes I feel that government departments have this mentality that all Black people are dumb but that isn’t the case. One of the people who worked at the AHO made comments to me that I should just be grateful for what I had. I put a complaint into the Ombudsman about the way that a senior manager had spoken to me in the AHO and am waiting to hear back.