By Kate Shaw

The right to the city: the entitled and the excluded - The Urban Reinventors, Special issue, November 2009

Charcoal Lane is a song written by Archie Roach, an Aboriginal musician who was taken from his family before he was old enough to remember. He grew up in Victoria with various foster families before writing his story in the song Took The Children Away which earned him a Human Rights Achievement Award – the first ever presented to a songwriter.

The story of Charcoal Lane is a metaphor for the curiously qualified gentrification of Gertrude Street. Charcoal Lane the restaurant is situated in the building that once housed the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS). The VAHS, a non-profit Aboriginal community cooperative, was formed in the early 1970s during the heady period of the Whitlam Labor government – the first national Labor government in 23 years and the most socially progressive in Australia (then and since). In addition to its recognition of the horrific treatment and living conditions of Australian Aborigines, the Whitlam government created a role for national intervention in Australian cities and established a universal healthcare system [...]

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Kate Shaw is an ARC Research Fellow in Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, Australia, with a PhD in urban planning and a master’s degree in urban policy. She recently co-ordinated the large ARC Linkage Project, Transnational and Temporary: students, community and place-making in central Melbourne (2005- 2008). She is currently working on a Discovery Project titled Planning the ‘creative city’: reconciling global strategies with local subcultures (2009-2012). Kate has a background in alternative cultures and activism. Her research interests include social equity, cultural diversity, housing markets, gentrification, and urban policy and planning. She has received several awards for her publications in these areas and is a regular media commentator and policy advisor to various Melbourne councils and local campaigns. Among her latest publications is Whose Urban Renaissance? An international comparison of urban regeneration policies, (London: Routledge, 2009).

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