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Towards a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for Waterloo

Eight years into the Waterloo redevelopment there has still not been a Social Impact Assessment (SIA), it is not required until the first Development Application (DA) probably in 2025. The Department of Planning undertook a SIA for the rezoning of public housing at Explorer Street Eveleigh in 2023 using the state government’s SIA requirements as part of a joint SIA and Social infrastructure study. As the Eveleigh site has an existing public housing community that will be impacted, the findings of that SIA portion gives us a good starting point to think about what should be covered in a Waterloo SIA. The social infrastructure element of the Eveleigh report is site specific and is not readily comparable to Waterloo.

Below REDWatch has adapted the explanation of a SIA from NSW Department of Planning and Environment Social Infrastructure and Social Impact Assessment Explorer Street, Eveleigh produced by WSP PDF page 61 (report page 55). The examples referred to below relate to this Explorer Street study and a searchable copy of this report can be found on the REDWatch website as Explorer Street, Eveleigh Social Infrastructure and Social Impact Assessment (fully searchable PDF).

What is a Social Impact Assessment (SIA)

A SIA identifies and assesses the potential social impacts of a proposed redevelopment on the groups who might be directly or indirectly affected.


A preliminary scoping of impacts identifies likely impacts using the categories in the table below. A summary of impacts identified through this process for Explorer Street is provided in Appendix F of the WSP report.

Following the scoping process, findings from other research, engagement, study outcomes conducted by other technical specialists are used to refine the identification of impacts and understand their significance.

In relation to looking at another site, like Waterloo, people may want to look at Eveleigh scoping and identify any other impacts that might not have been identified in the Eveleigh case but which are relevant to Waterloo.

Assessment of significance

Following impact identification, each social impact is evaluated to understand its significance without mitigation or enhancement.

This considers both the likelihood of an impact occurring and its potential magnitude (characterised by the extent, duration, severity/scale, sensitivity and level of concern of each impact), as shown by the social impact assessment matrix in the below table.

Social impact significance assessment tool

DPE SIA Social Impact Assessment Assessment Tool

Source: DPE 2023, SIA Guideline and Technical Supplement

A detailed assessment of social impact ratings for Eveleigh is provided in Appendix G of the WSP report.

In relation to looking at another site, like Waterloo, people may want to look at the Eveleigh assessment of significance and identify if they consider the significance provided to an identified common issue is similar or different in Waterloo.

Mitigation and enhancement measures and monitoring

Following identification and assessment of impacts, mitigation and enhancement measures are developed for each impact to enhance positive impacts or reduce negative impacts. Monitoring measures were also identified.

Considering proposed enhancement and mitigation measures, each social impact was then reassessed to determine the 'residual' social risk, post-mitigation or enhancement.

The proposed mitigation, enhancement, and monitoring measures include those that are relevant for planning/design stages, as well as those which are relevant for later phases. The SIA Guideline recognises that some mitigation or enhancement measures may require action by or collaboration with other separate entities.

For the Eveleigh study the enhancement and mitigation measures are described by WSP in Section 7 and summarised in Section 8 along with residual ratings and monitoring measures using the table above.

In relation to looking at another site, like Waterloo, people may want to look at Eveleigh’s mitigation and enhancement measures and consider if the measures to enhance positive impacts or reduce negative impacts are appropriate for Waterloo or if other additional steps should be taken.

What did the Explorer Street Eveleigh SIA find?

The report says "Most of the anticipated positive impacts are expected to be long term and affect future residents of the development as well as the local community. Over half of the anticipated negative impacts are anticipated during the pre-construction period, and many of them are related to the relocation process for existing social housing tenants. It is acknowledged that this is beyond DPE’s responsibility following potential rezoning, however several measures have been identified that can be conducted by relevant stakeholder agencies to mitigate these impacts. Most of the longer term negative impacts could also be mitigated by measures proposed to be addressed at later phases of the redevelopment process i.e. development applications and/or management by housing provider." ... "A future Social Impact Management Plan should be prepared as part of future development application(s) in order to refine and ascertain the measures recommended in this SIA."

Council in its Submission on Explorer Street Eveleigh states: "The City also supports the enhancement and mitigation measures addressed within the Social Infrastructure and Social Impact Assessment by WSP. The City reaffirms the importance for the relevant authorities to implement the measures identified in the assessment to support existing residents during temporary relocation and return to the site. The City supports the need for a Social Impact Management Plan to be prepared at the future application stage to refine the measures recommended in the Social Infrastructure and Social Impact Assessment."

You can see the specific recommendations from South Eveleigh summarised in Section 8 of the WSP report. We have put a searchable PDF of this section on the REDWatch website at Summary of the SIA Recommendations for Explorer Street Eveleigh

What Studies have already been undertaken for Waterloo?

The rezoning for Waterloo South included a Social Sustainability Study over seen by LAHC. While a SIA was requested one was not undertaken. A SIA that complies with DPE SIA requirements will be required with the first DA for Waterloo South. You will find a number of REDWatch’s concerns about the Social Sustainability study on the REDWatch website. A submission from Alison Ziller who lectures in SIAs at Macquarie University spelt out the Need for a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for Waterloo South. As the Waterloo South Social Sustainability study was commissioned by LAHC, LAHC was able to give some undertakings on the issues the report was allowed to cover. You can see LAHC’s response in LAHC response to the Social Sustainability Study Report recommendations.

LAHC are currently working on its Waterloo People and Place framework which covers Relocations and Support, its Community Plan (includes its human service plan), Place Making and Connecting to Country. It describes itself as outlining how the “Government, and the renewal partner will work together with the community to realise positive outcomes for the people and the places in Waterloo.” While consultants have been employed and some consultations held the community has no visibility on what LAHC are doing as they say this work is being done to inform the tendering process.

The LAHC People and Place work is not connected to the Waterloo Human Services Collaborative which is working on the current problems facing public housing tenants and how they might be better addressed, while LAHC are dealing with future impacts. These two areas of work will need to be integrated at some point.

Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) in consultation with Government and Non-Government Agencies in 2018 undertook a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on the health impact of the announcement of the redevelopment and the wait while it comes to implementation. LAHC and DCJ were unhappy with the draft study. Even after many changes were made at their request SLHD have been unable to get sign off to publicly release the report. In response Groundswell Redfern Waterloo NGOs will conduct a community lead equity focused Health Impact Assessment of the Waterloo South redevelopment in 2024. This may also help feed into the DA SIA or into people’s response to that SIA.

REDWatch prepared 19 October 2023.