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REDWatch Concerns Regarding BEP2 Consultation

Below is the text of a letter sent by REDWatch to the RWA and Housing NSW setting out their concerns over the Consultation Process used for BEP2

This letter has been written at the request of REDWatch to express their concerns to the Redfern Waterloo Authority [RWA] around the consultation process for the recently released Built Environment 2 Plan (draft). REDWatch will be writing a separate submission to the exhibited Plan in due course.

REDWatch’s concerns centre on the limited time for community comment. RWA and others have been working on the BE2 Plan from 2004, and when one considers the additional elapse of time since it’s originally scheduled release date (March 2008), it has been a rather long gestation period. When this is compared with the amount of time that the Community have been given, 1 month, to digest and comment on the plan, any person would acknowledge that this is an unreasonable expectation.

This unreasonable expectation is particularly concerning when you take into account the demographics of the community. These demographics include factors such as language barriers, low literacy rates, and low achieved educational standards. The fact that most people do not have the required knowledge/capacity to understand planning frameworks and their significance has not been addressed, adequately or otherwise, in REDWatch’s opinion.

Conscientization - People need to be educated for participation, developing consciousness of their situation, to see what happened and why. You cannot just ask people what they want, people to have to learn how to ask, analyse and question. It is a dialectical process rather than information giving one.

(Friere P. 1968)

We believe that there has been insufficient capacity building amongst the local residents to enable them to understand the plan and its process, much less grasp its significance.

For example:- The leaflet circulated by Housing NSW, whilst it says the process is happening and it’s why it’s happening, doesn’t explain what actually is being proposed and the impact of the proposed Plan. The process map’s contained within it, are similar to that of a children’s theme park map, which some residents are expressing feeling that it was patronising, at the same time being ‘challenging’ for those with sight impermanent.

There were also similar issues with the RWA newsletter as it did not give a clear idea of what was proposed for example on infill around the high-rise. We have also had comments back from people who have not realised that the heights in the only draft control were not maximums even thought this is in the text of the plan.

It has also been alleged to us that during the street corner consultations currently taking place, misdirection techniques are been used. This is in the form of asking the community about what the future community facility needs are etc instead of directly discussing the Plan’s content. The facts that current Housing NSW properties will be demolished and replaced by Private Sector dwellings, there will be a significant increase in density and population, and that the net current public stock level will be reduced, despite previous ministerial promises are not being broached, much less discussed. Informal Exit Surveys have supported the allegations.

The same form of leading and possibly perceived misdirection is being said about the feedback form that RWA is utilising for residents to submit their submissions.

Redwatch are requesting:-

  • An urgent review of the current consultation strategy
  • An extension of the exhibition time matched with appropriate capacity building
  • A minimum level scenario that presentations of the full facts should be made to all existing community groups
  • A Road Show with wider and more diverse locations for current consultations
  • A simpler, easier to understand summary of the BE2 proposal and its impact, not just the reasoning behind it, to be distributed to every household in the area.
  • A wider distribution of the full plan due to the limited access local residents have to the internet, along with other factors such as limited mobility.
  • That consultation workshops should be held, facilitated by independent advocates that have a good understanding of what is been proposed, to assist residents to respond.
  • That similar capacity building/consultation to be carried out with the wide range of agencies in the area.
REDWatch hopes you consider these requests within the intended spirit in which they are made, one of desire for the community to be enabled to make informed decisions about its future, and look forward to receiving your response. Thanking you for your time and

considerations in these matters, in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Shreenan

Convener of Redwatch

On behalf of ‘REDWatch’ Members

REDWatch Note - The RWA reply to this email can be found at - RWA Letter to REDWatch Regarding BEP2 Consultation