Waterloo Public Housing Meeting

(10.30am 24 April 2012, The Factory Centre, Waterloo)

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our meeting. I'd 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 200 nationalities who make up our City.

I'd like to welcome Superintendant Luke Freudenstein from Redfern Police, Housing NSW, the Factory Community Centre and a range of community agencies. Together, we can work together to find solutions to local problems.

Before we start, I want to mention the distressing incident in Kings Cross, where people were hurt and others were shot by police officers. I know that Superintendent Freudenstein and before him Superintendent Cath Burns have worked hard to build trust with the Redfern and Waterloo Indigenous communities, and there has been a very positive response from Indigenous people.

We need to get all the facts about this incident and not just rely on inflammatory media. There will be a police investigation and I have asked the NSW Ombudsman to oversee this investigation, so that the community can be confident about the outcome.

Superintendent Freudenstein may have more to say later when he speaks about crime and safety in your area.

The City and Housing continue to meet each month to deal with local housing issues and find ways we can work together for your benefit. I hope that this means we coordinate our responses to local concerns and get action quickly to address the concerns you identify.

I'm aware that there are backlogs in repairs and maintenance for Housing NSW. The split of Housing NSW between two Ministers has meant that assets workers in Housing NSW now have a different Minister - with a restructure still being sorted out. Along with technical officer inspections and work orders to contractors and sub-contractors, this makes getting things fixed more complex.

And the Government is looking to reduce spending, so we are all concerned that this may mean budget cuts in social housing. I've asked Questions in Parliament about this, after hearing some disturbing stories about work needed.

Redfern Tenants Advice and Advocacy service has produced a Repairs Kit, which my Lord Mayoral Salary Trust helped to get printed so that tenants with repairs problems understand what they should do to make sure their requests get followed up.

I've also asked Government Ministers about making your homes environmentally sustainable with appliances and equipment that reduce costs and emissions, and about helping tenants get training and work to help get back on their feet.

Housing NSW cannot fix problems if you don't tell them, so you need to report the Housing NSW Contact Centre as a first step, telephone 1300 468 746.

After many stops and starts, the Waterloo Safety Audit is now well underway. Teams of people walk the neighbourhood and identify safety concerns so that they can be fixed.

The initial daytime audits were completed in March and April and City staff tell me they've been able to sort out some issues immediately in collaboration with police, Housing NSW, the Sydney Local Health District, the Factory and of course, with you, the residents.

Night audits are now being done to identify other safety and amenity issues.

Thanks to the dedicated members of the Waterloo Well-being and Safety Action Group, for coordinating this community action that will help improve your neighbourhood. This group meets here at the Factory Community Centre every month. If you would like to get involved, talk to someone from The Factory.

Last year, after requests from residents and local police, the City set alcohol restrictions in Waterloo Green and surrounding streets. These are called Alcohol Prohibited Areas and Alcohol Free Zones, and you'll see the new brown signs with pictures that show clearly you are not allowed to drink alcohol in these areas.

As promised, we evaluated the impact of those restrictions on alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime. Police and residents report that the zones have helped with managing anti-social behaviour. We want to know whether you would like to see the restrictions extended.

This is the first time we've banned alcohol consumption on public housing land, so it's important that we get your feedback before deciding whether to continue the restrictions, and whether to apply them in other areas.

The Redfern Waterloo Community Drug Action Team meets each month to deal with issues around drug and alcohol use in the community. After requests from both residents and police, the team will be hosting a community forum about the use of ice in the community. The forum will be held at Redfern Town Hall and will include health, legal and police experts.

The group is always pleased to hear from any community members who would like to join them. You should talk to people from The Factory for information.

NSW Health has approved the Sydney Local Health District to install a needle and syringe vending machine on Redfern Street. I understand that some in the community are concerned about the impact this could have, and the limited consultation.

City staff have asked the Health District to hold an open community forum so that locals can ask about the machine and how it will be managed. There are other machines in Kings Cross and Surry Hills already operating, so it would be useful of the health people reported on their operations.

The City held another successful season of Good Neighbourhood barbecues last month, including a very successful one at Waterloo Green. These BBQs provide information about safety concerns, as well as kids activities and get together with neighbours.

Thank you to everyone who came along and made it such a good event, really bringing the community together.

Last month, the first Family and Culture Day was held at Waterloo Green. It's fantastic to see Waterloo Green come alive with positive community events. It really helps neighbours get to know each other, which can sometimes be hard in apartment blocks.

The City has been working with Housing NSW and the Local Health District to deal with discarded needles dumped around Waterloo Green. The City is mapping the problem areas so they can be regularly patrolled by Housing and Health. We have also run sessions for local gardeners so that people are protected from the risk of needlestick injury. If you see dumped needles, call the Needle Clean Up Hotline which is 1800 633 353 (or 1800 NEEDLE). Please speak to our Safe City staff if you'd like to tell them about hotspots.

We're working with Housing NSW to deal with issues with bin bays for the Waterloo low-rise buildings to make sure the bays clean and waste removed.

The SAVE Project - Sustainable Action Values Everyone - is designed to increase recycling and you'll hear from them about ways you can recycle your waste and help your environment.

The City is proposed a new, two-way separated cycleway along George Street in Redfern and along Allen, Mandible and Short Streets in Waterloo.

The proposal involves:

  • Extending the existing George Street 40km/hr zone from Redfern Street to Bourke Street, Waterloo, with new traffic calming measures
  • Improved footpaths and pedestrian crossings, and new street trees
  • Retaining current loading zones and
  • Introducing one-way streets on George Street from McEvoy to Allen Street, and on Allen Street between George Street and Botany Road. This will
    alleviate any parking loss.

The plans are on exhibition now, and you can give comments to the City so that we incorporate your local knowledge.

Thank you once again for coming here today. I hope you find the meeting helpful.