"Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home! Home! And this is my room, and oh, Auntie Em, there's no place like home!"
(Dorothy, Wizard of Oz)
In October, 2003 the ACT Government ‘decommissioned’ Currong Apartments and all public housing tenants were allocated housing elsewhere over the next 12 months.
I suppose the ACT Govt was able to kill two birds with one stone and move all the anti-social problems out of the inner city and sell the site for redevelopment.
Currong, built in 1958, was the tallest building in the City for a long time. In the 90s it became a ‘no go zone’ for many locals because of the ‘anti-social behaviour’ of some tenants.
When I first met a student living in Currong in 2003, it was definitely an undesirable piece of real estate. Junkies and drunks in the stairwells and at least one suicide that semester. It had acquired a nickname of ‘Suicide Flats’ because of the number of people who chose Currong to jump off the roof and kill themselves.
After it was ‘emptied’ in 2004, students from ANU and CITSA got involved in lobbying the government for student accommodation.
To cut long story short, in February 2005 substantial numbers of students were able to move into Currong Apartments when the ACT Department of Housing handed the management of the building over to two community organisations to manage and allocate to ANU, UC and CIT students.
The Association of Post Secondary Student Accommodation (APSSA), established and managed by Anne McCusker for over 20 years was able to place students in public housing. At last students had a path into Currong Apartments.
From the beginning it has been a fantastic experience in providing low cost accommodation for students – during this time APSSA and also, Havelock have placed over 200 students in Currong.
The exhibition of portraits of students living at Currong was created by CITSA to coincide with the VIVID Photography Festival and to celebrate the rejuvenation of Currong Apartments resulting in a flourishing student life.
The Currong site will be developed eventually - later than sooner hopefully.
Elaine. CITSA. September 2008.
Currong Apartments were demolished in 2018.