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This is a deeply human story of living with an abusive partner and the respite that comes from having access to open space.

With heart felt thanks to the author for shedding light on living with abuse and the positive impacts of locally available amenity. This story is published anonymously.

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Renting a top floor south facing unit in Engadine while looking after a 2 year old and a baby (failing to thrive because of a severe kidney infection and damage), and living with an angry, abusive husband was hell.

Add the lack ceiling fans, air-conditioning, insulation or window safety locks, we became very dependent on local playgrounds and the public library during the summer.

With thoughts like “at least we have fresh drinking water in Australia”, I would get through the days longing for more support but dreading the “witching hour” when my now ex-husband would bring his white knuckled, seething anger into our home.

Cooper street park - Engadine - Photo Sutherland Shire Council

Cooper St park Engadine became a life saver for us, the toddler could play, there were facilities for the baby and me, and it was a circuit breaker away from the inadequate, unsafe home we lived in.

Then came the inevitable depression, separation, naïve friends dropping off (“I was mad to leave such an awesome guy”), police involvement, AVO’s, local court, family court, supervised visits, no contact orders, lawyers, poverty and autoimmune disease kicking in.

With only one goal to protect my children from the fallout of a broken family, it was really important to find as many free, local, happy experiences as possible. For a while we didn’t even have a car.

13 years later, thanks to excellent support from professionals, family and with the much needed and appreciated assistance of government welfare payments, life is far happier and the children are thriving.

I often wonder what life will be like for young families in poverty in a hotter climate? When will these homes become death traps? The only change in 13 years to those inadequate rental home conditions is that it is now law to have child safety locks on windows.

I am concerned that we need to be urgently preparing our community for extreme heat waves and also making room to welcome people from areas in Sydney that are becoming increasingly too hot to live in (outlined in this article)

Providing some community gardens, more green spaces and playgrounds for the people living in apartments in Sutherland will make a difference for future young families.

Heat, disease and possible water shortages are here knocking on the door. Our lives are progressively becoming harder as previously dependable systems are beginning to break down (eg the Murray Darling River) The gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

Public spaces and assets are essential for poor people and people who may not be poor but find themselves in dire circumstances beyond their control.

Submitted story ends.


The Sutherland Shire Council are in a consultation period for planning for open spaces. Link to survey Sutherland Shire Open Space and Play Services

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes

Follow the link to have your say

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