This city was built on corruption. I have no power as a voter, none. I live in a safe seat federally and state wise. So, my vote doesn’t matter. I have other ways of influencing what happens because I’m a privileged person.

Being part of the Victoria Street Siege is something I’ll never forget because it’s part of my experience of political activism and it’s also part of my memory of this street. As I’ve said, I have mixed feelings about it. I’m glad to live here, but I know what happened in order for this street to be saved.

It’s a very important reminder that development, in those days anyway, development was able to be resisted and halted, and we don’t seem to have that capacity anymore.

Starting Elsie Street Woman’s Refuge in March 1974 was a huge moment both in the history of Sydney Women’s Liberation in those days, but also we established the Women’s Refuge Movement, then. It was related [to the Victoria Street Siege] in the sense that we had learned as part of the activities of the Resident Action Group that you could squat in houses and that the law allowed you to do that. Once you’re attained occupancy and changed the locks, you could not be evicted.

My reactions to it were very complex; in that day of fear, of triumph, of accomplishment.  Everything we did was prompted by violence, and we used an act of violence to establish the house by breaking in, but that was counteracted, or mitigated by the generosity of the locals, by the amazing support.


The festivity of mops and balloons held in the face of fear and the generosity of brown rice cooking.


Anne Summers