i have not previously given too much thought to the idea of autonomy. in theory i know what the word means, and i value it as a principle in my personal life (especially related to family and other relationships). but it has not been until the residency at the collingwood housing estate that i have considered the real value of autonomy and its relation to public and social welfare.

the department of housing does a great job in providing housing for people whose situations are otherwise very precarious. it is an excellent safety net, that i’m very proud of in this county.

and having to bring together large groups of people to live relatively harmoniously, regardless of cross-cultural considerations, is a difficult job.

and in doing so, i wonder if the first ‘luxury’ to go is the luxury of autonomy.

it’s not that there isn’t freedom in a housing estate, or certain levels of creature comfort and community. but only to a certain level. major decisions all stop with DHS. public space is within the directorate, permission must be granted for all kinds of things.

this keeps residents – whose lives have been traumatic, or dangerous, or disastrous – safe. for the time being. and i wonder what a difference having a sense of autonomy might bring to these lives. and how does one learn a sense of autonomy in a community situation?

and can autonomy – the notion of freedom earned from self-responsibility – exist alongside welfare? or is it a utopian ideal – a luxury afforded the bourgeoisie and bratts like me, who are actually privileged enough to believe that choice is the ultimate freedom.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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