Bryan Brown is one of Australia’s greatest actors. From Breaker Morant in 1980 to Beautiful Kate in 2009, Bryan has been an integral part of the film industry, here and overseas. He has won two AFI Awards and in June 2005 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia.
“The three of us moved in during 1953 – me, my Mum and my sister who is younger than me.
Our house in Panania was a two bedroom fibro cottage. There were still some market gardens around, but all the trees had been chopped down to make way for the houses.
Before that, we lived in the hostel at Bradfield Park. The first house they offered us was Panania and Mum grabbed it.
It was a fantastic place to grow up. We had swamps to play in and the Georges River to swim in. The local Church, the picture theatre and the pool at Bankstown were important too.
Because I had a home, and because Mum was fantastic, I never felt that I missed out on anything.
I did my leaving certificate and did pretty well and then I went to work at AMP studying actuaries.
When I was 25 and living in Panania, I decided to go to London to take up acting.
Growing up in Panania shaped me and gave me great strengths. It taught me patience, you have to wait for things. You don’t expect things to just happen, you have to put in for them.
I know now that it was hard for Mum to get together the rent money, but she didn’t talk about it at the time. She had jars for the rent, the electricity bill etcetera. I learnt a great lesson in budgeting from her.
We lived our lives outside. And all the time I was taking in things, seeing how other people lived. Sometimes that got a bit hairy.
One day me and a mate were being chased by a group of boys who wanted to bash us. We ran into this house and the bloke was there in the bath. We told him what was going on, he grabbed a gun went out and chased off the gang.
The main thing was that there was a community of people looking after each other, it was clear that you needed other people.
I say to young people that it isn’t important what kind of house you have. What matters is that you make it a home. You might own a massive castle on a hill, but if it’s not a home then you’re not going to be happy. I was lucky enough to grow up in a happy home, it just happened to be a public housing home.”