Millers Point Public Tenants Meeting

(2pm 20 September 2011, Abraham Mott Hall Millers Point)

Welcome everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present.

I hold these meetings so I can report directly to you, and you can hear directly from Council officers, Housing NSW, Police and other agencies so they can take action on concerns.

To fix problems, we need to listen to each other and work together. There will be time for you to ask questions and raise concerns after the presentations. I also remind you that we don't talk about individuals and their personal matters here, so some things have to be discussed in private after the meeting.

I welcome our speakers and representatives here today, who will give you an update on their work and answer questions.

Here to speak to you today are:

  • Superintendent Garry O'Dell, The Rocks Police Commander
  • Michael Modder, Project Officer, Housing NSW
  • Dominic Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer, City of Sydney
  • Douglas Holmes, Cadre Project, St Vincent's Mental Health
  • Ron Jennings, Precinct Representative, Neighbourhood Advisory Board

Also here to day are representatives:

  • Jackie Smith, Customer Service Duty Officer, The Rocks Police Command
  • Jeff White, Crime Co-ordination
  • Angela Walsh, Team Leader, Housing NSW
  • Katharine Young, City Strategy and Design
  • Charmaine Jones & David White, Inner Sydney Regional Council
  • Representatives from the Millers Point Estate Advisory Board
  • Representatives from the Save Millers Point Community Committee
  • Vanessa Campbell, Place Manager, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority
  • Toni Rankin & Fleur Mellor, Barangaroo Delivery Authority
  • Ceinwen Kirk and James Longfield, Lend Lease Barangaroo South
  • Paul de Carvalho, Director, Production Attraction, Screen NSW

Also here are Leanne Abbott and Tessa Whittle from my Electorate Office.

Keri Huxley, former Woollahra Mayor, has asked to attend toady. She is working on a University research project on heritage in Millers Point, and asked if she could attend the meeting. Is everyone happy for her to sit in and listen?

I will start by reporting on some of my work, and then ask our guests to update you and answer questions.

Since we last met in March, there has been a state election and I am honoured to again represent you in the State Parliament. We have a new Government with new Ministers and portfolios. Pru Goward, the Minister for Family and Community Services, is now the Minister responsible for most of the Housing NSW portfolio and I have already asked her to take action on a number of issues of concern to you, including requesting that Housing NSW officers attending these community meetings. I am pleased to have Housing NSW representatives here today.

I have asked for continued funding for Neighbourhood Advisory Board support, and have argued that Precinct Representatives should get admin support with photocopying material for the tenants they represent. I understand that the Regional Council for Social Development will continue to provide some support for the Boards with funds from Housing NSW. David White and the new Executive Director Charmaine Jones are here today from Regional Council.

Your Neighbourhood Advisory Board representatives meet every two months to discuss concerns and work to get better outcomes for tenants. They represent different zones in Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks and volunteer their time on the Board and I thank the precinct representatives for their work sorting out problems and supporting tenants.

I believe that there are some vacancies on the Neighbourhood Advisory Board, and elections for new local representatives will be held soon. You should talk to David from Regional Council, Dom or one of your current representatives if you are interested in getting involved.

In Parliament, I asked the Government for action on homelessness in the inner city, for the expansion of public dental health services, compensation for people who have suffered abuse while in institutional or foster care as children, and a National Disability Insurance Scheme to support people with a major disability.

Copies of my speeches, questions and ministers' answers are on the table at the back of the room.

My Lord Mayoral Salary Trust has funded a project to reduce the stigma of mental illness and provide community support. The Cadre Project is providing face to face Recovery and Peer Support Training and follow up mentoring and support to help people in our community care for each other.

The project started with the first group trained in Surry Hills. Douglas Holmes, Consumer Participation Coordinator for St Vincent's Mental Health Service is here today to let us know about this project. I hope that some of you might like to get involved.

The Inner City Mental Health Recovery Working Group is organising activities for Mental Health Month in October to raise awareness and build community, so I hope you will be able to participate in their fun events.

I asked the Minister to employ more Housing NSW officers with special skills to help with neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour. She said that all Housing NSW officers get training to deal with these concerns, but there are more and more tenants who need support, and the Housing NSW officers have a demanding workload. I think we need more experts in this area.

I continue to request retrofitting of Housing NSW properties with insulation and energy and water saving devices, which would reduce your bills and reduce pollution. Housing NSW has a plan to do this, and I will keep pushing to get funds allocated for inner city properties.

The Minister tells me that the new Government will continue to sell the 20 Millers Point homes announced by the former Minister for Housing last year. I have repeatedly asked Ministers to stop selling inner city public housing and maintain homes in this heritage area.

Last week in Parliament I asked the Minister to report on the sale of Housing NSW properties and the new Government's plans for Millers Point.

Housing NSW is continuing with the major maintenance with repairs in Gloucester Street, Lower Fort Street, Trinity Avenue, High Street and Kent Street.

The Minister tells me that Housing NSW has some funds to continue catching up on the maintenance needed. I have asked her about further plans to address the maintenance backlog in the inner city.

Housing NSW has changed how it manages maintenance and you now need to report directly to the Housing Contact Centre, as your local office, staff like Angela Walsh, your Team Leader now have no say in maintenance. There are some fridge magnets at that back of the room with the phone number. So, the Housing NSW officers here cannot tell you about your maintenance requests. In case of problems, you should call the Housing Contact Centre with your reference number and ask them about progress. I asked the Minister to improve its Housing Contact Centre call centre, and tenants tell me that call waiting time has dropped a lot.

Responsible pet ownership is important for pets, owners, neighbours and the wider community. Many tenants own pets, and need to learn about how to take good care of them.

We had our fourth annual Pet Day in Ward Park Surry Hills last weekend. The day was a great success with 196 pets getting free worming, vet checks and giveaways, while their owners enjoyed a free BBQ. The City of Sydney micro-chipped 29 dogs, and 27 dogs and 5 cats will be de-sexed for free. This year, the RSPCA provided an pet transport and the City of Sydney ran a community bus to transport pets from five public housing estates.

I welcome the Premier and Minister for Planning's release of the findings of the Barangaroo Review as an opportunity to rebuild trust with the community. As you know, I have worked hard to get a positive outcome with Barangaroo, but had real concerns about consultation, communication and transparency – all issues the review confirmed as needing to be addressed.

The review backed many improvements that the City's planning experts had suggested, including reducing density and scale, better consultation, communication and transparency; sustainability and environment protection for remediation; reviewing the hotel site over the Harbour; and more affordable housing for key workers.

A quality development at Barangaroo is critical to our City's future and will have a big impact on the Millers Point area, and I hope that the Government's support for change gets a better outcome.

The review also agreed with the City's independent research that public transport will not be able to cope with the expected and I hope that the new taskforce, led by Transport for NSW will develop an integrated transport plan for Barangaroo. Again this will have a major impact on your community.

The Barangaroo Review Panel recommended an independent Contamination Site Auditor overseen by the Office of Environment and Heritage and the City of Sydney, to check the remediation.

The City of Sydney has appointed Kerry Clare, Principal Clare Architects, and Michael Harrison, a Director at leading architecture and planning firm Architectus, as our representative on the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) Board.

There are representatives here today from both the Barangaroo Delivery Authority and Lend Lease who will be available to answer any questions you may have later.

Last week in this hall we held the second consultation with you on the City's Harbour Village North Study.

Council got 16 submissions in response to our initial ideas about improving your streetscapes, public spaces and access, while protecting and celebrating the heritage character of this special area. At the first session in July, 80 residents, business owners, and workers supported the guiding directions of the draft study.

You told us that you wanted to preserve the heritage, protect residential amenity and improve access through the area. You said you want better public transport, safer pedestrian access, and way finding signs to distinguish the localities with the precinct. You expressed a need for retail and services for the local community, and in particular a children's playground.

Thank for to everyone who has taken part; your input will help the City's planning team improve the area and plan for future integration with Barangaroo.

I will now hand over to Superintendent Garry O'Dell, Commander, The Rocks Police who will update us on crime and safety in Millers Point.

Michael Modder, Project Officer, Housing NSW will give an update on Housing NSW action.

Dominic Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer, City of Sydney, with report on activities in your area.

Douglas Holmes, Mental Health Consumer Participation Coordinator, St Vincent's Hospital will tell us about the Cadre Project.

Ron Jennings, Precinct Representative, Neighbourhood Advisory Board will provide an update on meetings and the upcoming elections.

If you have not already, please sign the attendance sheet at the back of the room and let me know if you would like to get my weekly eNewsletter.

I also have a number of petitions at the back of the room that you might like to sign, including asking the government to retain inner city social housing and provide mental health support for public housing tenants, and transport through this area. . Leanne has spare copies if you are able to collect signatures from others who may not have been able to attend today.

If you have individual concerns, feedback or issues to raise that were not able to be discussed today, please fill out the feedback section on the back of today's agenda and return to Leanne, Sam, Hayley or Tessa from my office.

I invite everyone to stay for afternoon tea.