Millers Point Social Housing Meeting

(10.30am, Tuesday 26 February 2013, Abraham Mott Hall)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to our first meeting for 2013. There's a lot to catch up on since our last meeting last June. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.

I would also like to acknowledge that residents organised a community meeting here last Thursday night to discuss the sales of HNSW properties in the area. Unfortunately I couldn't be there but I understand that a committee to represent residents was formed and held their first meeting on Monday. That's very good news and I congratulate you on your work to oppose these sales.

If you are worried about the sales, I encourage you to contact the committee members to discuss it. Ron Jennings, Paul Wilson-Brown and Mara Barnes will be able to help you make contact with the committee if you are unsure who to contact.

HOUSING NSW

Because of the split between the tenancy management and asset ownership and maintenance functions for social housing properties, a new liaison system has been developed between Housing NSW, the Land & Housing Corporation, and the City.

Representatives from the three organisations will meet regularly throughout the year to discuss operational and strategic planning issues.

This is a positive steps towards a better link between the work and planning we do at the City, and social housing management.

The Estate Advisory Board continues its valuable role as a meeting place for tenants to raise issues, find information on local planning and innovations, and also a base for action. I encourage all residents to talk with your local representatives.

Property sales on 99-year leases have continued, with only four of the 200 sales announced still remaining after the latest two properties in Lower Fort Street failed to sell at auction in early May.

Public tenants are worried about possible further sales, particularly in light of the number of Millers Point properties currently vacant, including boarding houses.

I hope that the Land & Housing Corporation will release information about the property evaluation report now being completed and further hope that there will soon be community consultations to enable residents to voice your concerns.

I urge you all to attend them. The City will pursue this matter in our meetings with the corporation.

BARANGAROO

A remediation trial is beginning on Hickson Road in the hope of avoiding full-scale excavation. Known as the SISCO trial - for surfactant-enhanced in situ chemical oxidation - it will be reviewed by a panel. It's also been confirmed that the main access into the new Headland Park will be along the waterfront. There will be no major road changes in the development. New cycle-ways and widened footpaths should also improve access to the area.

The Barangaroo Delivery Authority said in their media release that consultation with the public and stakeholders will be an important part of the master-planning process, though timing for the community consultation has not yet been announced.

HARBOUR VILLAGE NORTH PUBLIC DOMAIN PLAN

The City has continuously pushed for the Barangaroo site to integrate with the existing communities of Millers Point, Dawes Point and Walsh Bay. We undertook to investigate how that could be achieved through public domain works.

This was the subject of a Harbour Village North Public Domain Study which involved wide community consultation.

The study included some proposals to better connect Millers Point with the Headland Park at Barangaroo. These have now been added to become known as the Headland Park Integration Works.

Council has budgeted $37 million for works over the next 10 years to improve the public domain and the connections to Barangaroo. This includes up to $7.3 million in value for the Integration Works.

ALCOHOL RESTRICTIONS

The City is currently taking applications for new alcohol-free zones and alcohol-prohibited areas. A consultation process for any new applications deemed valid will begin in March.

ELDERS

The Harry Jensen Centre next door continues to provide services for Millers Point residents and beyond, including subsidised meals, social activities, support, advocacy and assistance.

We are looking at establishing a community garden at the Jensen Centre, so we'll be holding a consultation with your community in the coming months to look at how it will be set up and what it will look like. We're encouraging the whole community to get involved and make this garden a vibrant, green community space.

For more information, call the Community Worker on 9244 3696, or Lisa Cheung on 9246 7823. Alternatively, you can always pop in next door for a cup of coffee and a chat.

The King George V Recreation Centre in Cumberland Street has numerous programs and activities for children, young people and families. And the City and Housing NSW continue to support the work of the Older Women's Network which is based here in Millers Point.

YOUNG PEOPLE

Last year, young people from the Abraham Mott Youth Centre joined in developing a documentary called "Who is Miller's Point?" The film takes you on an emotional journey, celebrating this community, highlighting their concerns and capturing the rich history of the area. Central magazine featured it in their issue of January 30, and it will be screened as part of the Windmill Theatre program in March.

The Abraham Mott Youth Centre will operate Monday to Thursday for drop-in. On Fridays, workers will look at current needs and explore new ways of engaging with young people.

The numbers at the Centre have decreased over the last couple of years as most of the young people who were using it have grown to early adulthood, and there are fewer young people living here in the next generation down.

A new alternative education program called Regenisis will run out of the Centre during the day, from Monday to Thursday.

Points on withholding funding for the Harbour Village North public domain works:

I recognise that the area is undergoing rapid change, but I don't believe that withholding funding for public domain works in your neighbourhood will help residents to meet the challenges they face over the coming years - in fact it will delay much needed improvements to your village.

Council has budgeted $37 million for works to be completed over the next 10 years for the Harbour Village North public domain and to improve connections to Barangaroo. This includes $7.3 million in value for the Headland Parks Integration Works.

These proposed works are the result of the Harbour Village North Public Domain Study which involved extensive consultation with residents, and will make a vital contribution toward ensuring that Barangaroo is well connected to the rest of the city - especially to this area.

The Harbour Village North Public Domain Study was adopted by Council in May 2012, and includes planning to help manage the future impacts expected from the Barangaroo development.

It is part of the work the City is doing to ensure that the historic areas of Millers Point and The Rocks are protected.

I strongly believe that new public housing should not be developed at the expense of existing homes.

I also strongly believe that a quality development at Barangaroo is critical to both residents of Millers Point and to our City's future.

I think that holding City funding for this project hostage would simply create another obstacle to getting the best outcomes possible for this area. I am concerned that it would ultimately be ineffective at the cost of resident's amenity.

It will also jeopardise the badly needed integrated transport plan for the area - an issue I know many residents are concerned about.

I fought previous sales of social housing in this area, speaking strongly against them in Parliament, writing to and meeting with the then Minister, and supporting tenants and the local community in their campaign by attending rallies and tabling petitions in parliament.

Council voted to oppose opposed the sales in December 2006, in 2010 and again in November last year.

I recently wrote to both the Minster for Finance, Greg Pearce, and the Minister Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, telling them I strongly oppose the program of sales. Copies of my letters are available here today.