Fickle Futures Launch
Harrowing and brutal.
These are the choice words that Dr Ann Lawless uses to describe the experience of being evicted due to the sale of her rental apartment. Since then, Dr Lawless has moved across four states to follow opportunities of house-sitting, live-in caring, and affordable caravan accommodation. Navigating the fright of homelessness amid a global pandemic produced a complex situation of compounded hardship and concern.
Yet, amongst all this terrible adversity, Dr Lawless has found comfort and joy in what she describes as Collateral Beauty. The community network within caravan parks, the painted street art in new cities, and the sharing of knowledge and goods amongst people enduring similar experiences.
While the sun shines bright in the daytime, collateral beauty provides hope, but in the sleepless hours of a darkened night, torment and fear fills the mind, wreaking havoc on physical and mental health.
Dr Zoei Sutton joins the discussion to highlight the grief and unspeakable choices renters often face as they navigate the rental market (Acknowledgements to the Society for Companion Animal Studies). Pets, non-human friends, our animal family members; them or a house? Many people are faced with decisions to relinquish their pets, which can often have lethal consequences for the animal, and devastating impacts on the family and children who love and care for them.
Yet there is no protection for renters in many Australian states, and those in states with legislative support for tenants with pets must still contend with the current housing crisis. Dr Sutton describes the structurally intense process of a broken housing system which discriminates against renters with non-human companions.The threat of homelessness is real. The system of inequality maintains a structural wall of disadvantage and discrimination that reinforces the inequality in the rental hierarchy of preferred tenants.
Does the family stay together, stay alive? Or are the non-humans relinquished, rehomed or euthanised, to secure a roof for the humans?
The Fickle Futures: The ‘New’ Homelessness project aims to highlight the insecurity of housing in Australia for renters amid the national housing crisis. It is a collaboration between three TASA thematic groups: TASA Stratification, TASA Activism and TASA Animals. Launched with the webinar on 10 November 2022, the project includes discussion, sociological analysis and calls for action.
Discussion and analysis will primarily be in the form of this blog. They will be organised into monthly themes with one or multiple blogs published each month. Ultimately the goal is to create change:
What can I do?
What can we do?
As individuals, as sociologists?
Each of us has varying capacity to create change, and not all change requires a huge commitment. We hope that through this blog, and by engaging with this project, each of us will find a way to become involved.
Maybe we can buy a Pay-it-Forward coffee occasionally. Or find the courage to ask for one if we need it. Maybe we’ll commit to buying the Big Issue for a whole month. Perhaps as landlords, we’ll have conversations about the systemic inequality enabled by the rental hierarchy. Or rent the house to a household of human and non-human family members. Maybe we’ll be able to volunteer some time, fundraise, or join a campaign for policy change.
Fickle Futures will highlight the many options available for us, as individuals in our everyday life, as community members, and as professionals. We hope you’ll join us on this journey!
If you would like to contribute to the blog, or if you have any ideas to share, please contact us to discuss!
TASA Activism TG on twitter: @TASA_Activism
TASA Animals TG on twitter: @Tasaanimals
Nita Alexander: firstname.lastname@example.org @NitaGTAlexander