Understanding Miller

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28 March 2011

“Locational disadvantage” has an enormous impact in many Australian suburbs. But an experiment in Sydney’s 2168 postcode area is yielding results, writes Melissa Sweet in Inside Story

THE sun is intense as I drive back to Miller, a suburb of some repute in Sydney’s sprawling southwest. I’ve been visiting for a year or more, but my picture of the area is still full of contradictions and unanswered questions. This time, I hope, I’ll finally see the place in a clear light.

On this Friday morning, the carpark outside the rundown shopping centre is packed. People are hanging around the entrance to the Green Valley Hotel. Nearby, the pawnbroker’s doors are open, and a sign on the window lists the “ten top wanted goods.” (At the top of the list are PlayStations, Xboxes and mobile phones.) I make my way past the two-dollar shops and across the road to Miller Square, where a few people are sitting on a brick wall by the library, drinking. They seem out of place, sitting in front of the metres and metres of murals and mosaics that brighten the walls and distract from the faded brick flats nearby. Beyond is the patchwork of public housing that dominates the area…

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Melissa Sweet is a health journalist and editor of the health policy blog Croakey.

Photo: Mitchell Ward

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