Seminar on Problem families, public housing and eugenics in Tasmania

Beng Poh

20 October 2017 1:00 pm Australia/Hobart

“It was decided to use the term ‘no-hoper’.” Problem families, public housing and eugenics in Tasmania

Kathleen Flanagan, Housing and Community Research Unit, University of Tasmania

Since the late nineteenth century, scholars, practitioners and policy-makers have expended a great deal of energy thinking and writing about the ‘problem family’ (especially when encountered by housing providers as the ‘problem’ tenant). In the 1970s, the Tasmanian Housing Department had its turn. In this presentation Dr Flanagan uses archival evidence to examine their efforts to identify a definitive solution to the challenges posed by ‘problem’ households in public housing. She shows how attempts to define, identify and design models of rehabilitation for ‘problem families’ are entangled with other discourses and practices, most notably those of eugenics. And Dr Flanagan argues that they continue today, as a form of discursive commentary, to be an intrinsic part of welfare state efforts to tackle entrenched disadvantage.

Dr Kathleen Flanagan is Deputy Director of the Housing and Community Research Unit at UTAS. Prior to joining the University, Kathleen worked in the Tasmanian community sector, particularly with Anglicare’s highly regarded Social Action and Research Centre. She is currently working on a number of projects funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute which are directed at improving the sustainability and efficacy of the Australian housing system.

This free seminar is presented by the Institute for the Study of Social Change and the School of Social Sciences. All welcome.