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Object magazine 62 — Healthabitat

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, defines a ‘social business’ as a ‘cause-driven business’ where the ‘investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point.’ Paul Pholeros AM believes that Healthabitat, an Australian private company of which he is a co-founder and director, perfectly fits that definition.

Healthabitat had its genesis in 1985 when the three directors (Pholeros, Dr Paul Torzillo AM and Stephan Rainow) were working together at the Aboriginal-run Nganampa Health Council. The director of the Council, Yami Lester, had seen health programs rolled out that saw more people attending hospitals and doctors for treatment, but recognised that that didn’t mean the situation was improving — there were no programs aimed at stopping them getting sick in the first place.

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Lester instructed the trio to come up with a way to ‘stop people getting sick.’ A medical team began looking into why people were getting sick, and came back with results, one of which was that kids weren’t getting washed every day — if that improved, then so would their health.

Pholeros, an architect, is not afraid to admit that he was instantly dismissive of that outcome, stating ‘it’s nothing to do with me, it’s the parents’ job, they take the kids into the shower and wash them.’ It was when Lester rebutted with ‘maybe you should just go in and check that all the showers are working ok’ that he truly began to understand the differences between his self-confessed ‘white, middle class, Sydney upbringing’ and the community he was currently working within. Over 90% of the community did not have access to running water, hot water, taps, shower roses — any number of bathroom elements that otherwise make bathing a possibility.

Object Eye is previewing Object magazine issue 62 over coming weeks. To continue reading about Healthabitat, their 9 Healthy Living Practices and how their design process has improved thousands of homes around the world, download the free app for iPad or Android tablet, or read the browser-friendly version on this website — click here to find out how. To continue reading previews of this issue, click here.

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