This is a fascinating and moving portrait of the people who are suffering in a more divided and less egalitarian Australian society. Based on the author's conversations with hundreds of people living in three areas commonly described as 'disadvantaged' - Inala in Queensland, Mount Druitt in New South Wales and Broadmeadows in Victoria - this is a book in which impoverished Australians, who are often absent from debates about poverty, tell their own stories. Some are funny, others are sad. There are stories about loss, despair and an uncertain future they can hardly bear to tell. But there are also stories about hope, and the capacity of poorer people to imagine and create a fairer world. Rather than focusing on abstractions such as the underclass, this book provides an intimate account of real people's fears, hopes and dilemmas in the face of growing inequality, entrenched unemployment, and fading opportunities for the young.
Mark Peel is the author of Good Times, Hard Times and of A Little History of Australia. He teaches history at Monash University.