Redfern Public Housing Meeting

(11am 6 June 2012, Redfern Centre, 9 Ogden Lane)

Hello, everyone, welcome. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of the 200 nationalities who live in our City.

I'm pleased to welcome to our meeting:

  • Councillor Irene Doughtney
  • Dom Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer
  • Rebecca Martin, Manager, Safe City
  • Elena King, Companion Animals Officer
  • Debbie-Anne Evans, Manager, Redfern One Stop Shop
  • Jackie Campisi, Manager, Over 55 Services
  • Ciara O'Riordan, Policy Officer, Office of the Lord Mayor
  • Michael Modder, Housing NSW
  • Angela Cook, Crime Prevention Officer, Redfern Local Area Command.

Since our last forum, there have been some changes in the area, including the improvements to local shops in Regent, Redfern and Abercrombie Streets under our Redfern Shopfront Improvement Grant. And at present you can see interesting new designs in 14 retail windows with the Redfern Shopfront Showcase project that teamed design students with shop-owners.

Work to improve Cleveland and Baptist Street is now underway, and will include new brick paving, more trees and plants in garden beds and new plants to screen pedestrians from traffic. This is the start of the City's $3.5 million renewal of the retail precinct at the southern end of Crown Street, making the area more pedestrian-friendly and creating more space for outdoor dining.

City staff recently surveyed over 260 residents living at Waterloo Green about the alcohol restrictions that were put in place in 2011. Over 90 per cent of the people we spoke to asked that they be continued. Superintendent Freudenstein has instructed Redfern Police officers to treat street drinkers with dignity but also to make sure that they know it's not okay for people to get intoxicated in this area, with the associated fighting, screaming and yelling, urination and defecation and litter. This month, Council will consider new alcohol restrictions for Redfern Park, Chalmers Street, Caroline Street and Bakery Reserve. These are based on requests from Police and the community about where alcohol-related anti-social behaviour is a problem.

The Ron Williams Centre in Kepos Street continues to provide programs for our older residents. They run from daily lunch to bingo, from computer access and free wi-fi to a subsidised podiatry clinic. The Centre's community worker helps with advice and advocacy for older residents, as well as information about Meals on Wheels, community transport and supported shopping trips.

Our Community Services continue to grow and provide a great range of opportunities with the Growing Older Living Dangerously (GOLD) Healthy Ageing Program, including a terrific range of free or low-cost activities for a diverse range of interests. Through GOLD, older residents can join a computer class, attend a talk at the Library, learn to paint, go scuba diving, learn to surf, become a volunteer or join one of our exercise classes. For more information on GOLD you can visit the City's website, or speak to staff in Kepos Street.

We celebrated National Youth Week in April with a number of events, including the annual Betty Makin Youth Awards (some of you will remember Betty who was a local activist for many years). We are continuing our work with Green Square School, Key College and the Exodus Foundation who are getting very good results for young people who have dropped out of mainstream education. I'm also pleased that some of the young people from the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence Exodus Foundation Youth Program recently made a short film with the support of the City's Short Black Films project, so look out for that. Programs like this really help young people learn new skills whether it's acting, script writing, editing, camera or sound work.

The annual Volunteer Awards were hosted by the Factory community Centre at the Erskineville Bowling Club on May 29, as part of National Volunteering Week. Congratulations to everyone who received an award and thank you for your contributions to this community by helping those around you in so many different ways.

Waterloo and Surry Hills Libraries continue to be great meeting places and a good resource for local communities, with books, magazines and other resources, including free internet.

The Redfern Community Centre and Youth programs provide a range of activities for young people, including cooking and sports programs, and help with employment and training services.

Family and Culture Day events have moved to Waterloo Green and are being held bi-monthly. The next will be in July. These events activated The Block in a really positive way and helped reduce anti-social behaviour. The two events held so far at Waterloo Green have been well attended.

The City will be hosting a number of NAIDOC event during the first week in July, so watch out for flyers and posters about them. The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence continues to provide programs for young people and it will be holding a big NAIDOC event on July 6.

Another successful round of Good Neighbourhood BBQs were held in March and April, and more will be coming a bit later in the year. They're a great opportunity to meet your neighbours, local police and City staff, and to get safety and security information. They always have a good mix of live music and children's activities, as well as the BBQ.

Redwater Markets goes from strength to strength, with over 40 stalls at each event in recent months. The next is on Saturday week - June 16 at Redfern Park.

The Waterloo Bicycle Recycle Group meets every Monday at Waterloo Green and is open to anyone. You can learn how to build or maintain a bike and get tips about safe cycling.

The next Redfern Community Safety Precinct Committee meeting will be held in early August at Redfern Police Station.

Later in the year, we'll also be celebrating Redfern Neighbourhood Day at Poet's Corner, and Summer on the Green at Waterloo Green.

Pet Day will be held on Saturday September 15 at Ward Park Surry Hills, and flyers will be available from mid-August.

International Mental Health Day this year will be on Wednesday October 10, with a number of events now being planned.

Redfern Neighbourhood Advisory Board meets every two months to discuss community and housing issues and identify needs. The NAB includes representatives from tenants, Housing NSW, Police, the City and other agencies.

I encourage you to continue to involve yourselves in the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority and Housing NSW plans for the area. Residents want to find out about the Government's plans for social housing in this area, and I have supported the community request for the preliminary Master Plan for the public housing estates of Redfern and Waterloo to be made public.

The City of Sydney has increased its funding and support for community transport services, including expanding the Redfern to Glebe and Redfern to Woolloomooloo Village to Village Shuttles bus services from two to three days a week.

Residents have taken to these services strongly so they can get to shops and health services where mainstream buses don't go.

I've also asked the Minister for Transport about expanding NSW Government funding for transport for frail aged people and those with a disability who are unable to use general public transport to get around.

The Beyond Walls project, at the Factory Community Centre, started almost a year ago, helping street drinkers connect with services and making recommendations to the Community Drug Action Team and local safety action groups. The outreach worker covers both Redfern and Waterloo, and will continue until December, and hopefully beyond. The Factory is one of the Neighbourhood and Community Centres that I commended in Parliament earlier this year. These organisations are a vital part of the community, providing information, resources and skills to local residents.

REDWatch, which includes public tenants, has organised Lift Redfern to lobby the State Government to make Redfern Station accessible for disabled and older people, for women with prams and people in wheelchairs

Thank you all for coming here today, and I'd like to now hand over to our speakers.