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RWA HASMAC Report Back to Community Services Sector - 16 August 2007

Report from Helen Campbell, Redfern Legal Centre 16 August 2007.


Redfern-Waterloo Partnership Project 2001-2004

Survey of residents – results never released
Architects plans – never released
South Sydney Council amalgamated with City of Sydney Morgan-Disney report – critical of local community services Some local services tendered out to big charities (eg Barnardo's intensive family support)
Draft RED strategy – community consultation incomplete

Parliament Inquiry into Redfern-Waterloo 2004

Death of Aboriginal youth February 2004 and 'riots' Increased police and DoCS intervention
Many local submissions to Inquiry.
Inquiry final report December 2004

Redfern-Waterloo Authority 2005

Interim Human Services Advisory Committee March 2005
Ministerial committee appointment August 2005
Exemption from normal planning rules eg heritage protection
Reform of human services based on principles of integrated service delivery

Plans and reports

Human Services Plan Phase One                                        December 2005
Employment and Enterprise Plan                                        December 2005
Built Environment Plan                                                        August 2006
(these three together to form the 'Redfern-Waterloo Plan)

Human Services Plan implementation Framework               April 2006*
Human Services Plan Implementation Report #1                April 2006*

Draft Human services Plan Phase Two                                October 2006

*These may not have been publicly released. There is also a subsequent implementation report May 2007 (only in the form of minutes of a meeting) and an 18 month evaluation plan, status unclear. It was originally intended to be completed by 30 June 2007.

Committee Membership

 RWA (Julie Parsons) NCOSS (Michelle Burrell)
NSW Government: 
 Education (Phil Lambert)
  Police (Mark Walton)
  Health (Gay Horsborough)
  DoCS (Anne-Marie Sabellico)
  DADHC (Steven Gal)
  DAA (Ivan Simon)
  Housing (?) not on list
 Aust Government: FACSIA (Paul Cramer)
  ICC (formerly ATSIC) Cohn Kay
 City of Sydney:  Ann Hoban
 Community: Services (Helen Campbell)
  CALD (Mabel Chang)
  NAB? (Lynne Stewart)
  ? Howard Glenn
  ATSI (?)

Notes: There were several changes over time. Some but not all of the previous RWPP committee reps continued. The Government personnel representing the Departments changed from time to time, and sometimes frequently. At one stage Shirley Lomas represented the ATSI community but she resigned and (?) was not replaced. ATSI services were at one stage represented by Rob Welsh from the Metro Land Council, and on one occasion a man from (?)Tranby attended

At the completion of the work on the Plan stage One there were some changes made in representation to reflect the different areas of focus for stage 2.

Attendance by NSW government and City of Sydney representatives at meetings was variable and in some cases sporadic. As these meetings were not for decision making but for 'advisory' this is understandable. There was another separate group of NSW departmental representatives who met to discuss the actual implementation of the Plan. There is no community representation on that committee.

I attended (to the best of my recollection) every meeting. I was never in a meeting where the community representation (services or residents) were anywhere near as numerous as the various government representatives. The atmosphere was bureaucratic and some community representatives, although they attended regularly, seldom said anything or spoke only on a narrow range of issues. They were not encouraged to contribute. I often felt that mine was a lone and minority voice.

Redfern Legal Centre provided responses to drafts, evidence to Inquiries, and assisted/co-operated with other community inputs.

Ministerial appointments

At the request of a local residents' group we have investigated and provided legal advice about Ministerial Advisory Committees (MACS). Under the relevant legislation, the Minister has no legally enforceable obligation to consult with anyone at all, and if he choses to do so, may appoint, listen, ignore and dismiss such persons on any terms he thinks fit.

The Minister for Redfem-Waterloo, Frank Sartor, has never attended any one of his Ministerial Advisory Committee Meetings. I have never met him. When I ask about how he might receive the advice I am told that he receives reports of the meetings. However my comments have never been recorded in the official minutes of the meetings despite my consistent and documented requests.

My appointment was not renewed at the end of the term on 30 June 2007. A representative from the Factory Neighbourhood Centre has been appointed.

Which services are subject to reform?

This has been a mystery from the beginning. It is particularly relevant because who do I represent? The first list of services produced by the Morgan-Disney report allegedly showed how over-serviced and inefficiently serviced the area was. But when we looked at it we found many organizations who had an address in this area but did not provide services in this area, or only marginally in this area as part of a state-wide national or other geographical area, or provided services to a particular community regardless of their location and the office address was irrelevant. In terms of plans for service reform we are also aware of services provided to this area that are not based in this area and therefore escaped the reform agenda even though what they do and in what co-operation they do it is highly relevant to the reform agenda.

For example, the plans to reform youth services included neither Hillsong nor WAYS, although both are relevant to the options available to young people in the Redfern-Waterloo area, because their headquarters were outside of area. By contrast, organizations such as the National Breasifeeding Association

were included in the list for reform because they have an address here although they provide a national telephone service that the RWA has no power over, nor interest in, reforming to meet local needs.

After many requests for further information about which services in particular were subject to the Redfem-Waterloo Authority reform agenda and on what basis I have never received a satisfactory response.

However, if the definition is services located only in the area and providing services only in the area it is a very short list of very minimally funded community-based organizations. If this group is accused of causing the problem or failing to deliver there is no evidence to support this. (insert list of relevant agencies)

Those I believe to have been targeted I have worked with in defensive strategies including working on relocating services based in the Redfern Public School site and working to develop a consortium of services to address the demand for integrated service delivery.

What consultations have taken place?

In the development of the Human Services Plan #1 there were 'cluster group' meetings around family & children, youth, Aboriginal, and (other?) issues. There were also some meetings for the local community. The feedback from all of these meetings was that the contribution of the participants was not properly recorded and in general the RWA was not actually listening to the community.

One example of the failure to listen was the 'sticky-beak tour. This idea arose from the suggestion that it would be helpful if those who wished to tell us how to better integrate our services actually visited services to get a better understanding of how and where we did what we do. This became in the hands of the RWA a 'show-off event where government departments presented powerpoint presentations of their alleged achievements. This did nothing to improve our understanding of how services operate and how the RWA might better understand their reform agenda and was largely a waste of time.

For the Human Services Plan #2 there were no cluster group meetings. There was a single event to bring all together at the technology park and no accountability process for the RWA to respond to contributions. Entry was by invitation and the outcomes were reported as if every comment were equally significant. Again, and for different reasons, this was an inadequate and inappropriate form of consultation.

What changes have occurred?

The original Plan highlighted the aspiration to integrate youth services. This has not taken place. The RWA has undertaken a number of activities, most (all?) of which were not covered by the Plan but which are not in themselves of negative effect. While they have not forced any amalgamation of youth services, they have provided some support for midnight basketball and run a cooking class for young mothers (not in integration with anything).

Possible responses from the community sector

The Board of Redfem Legal Centre wants the sector to know that it is aware that the appointment was from the sector not as a representative of Redfern Legal Centre. Therefore the Board would be guided by the sector in its response to the termination of the appointment. One thing the Board wants to draw to attention is that a great deal of the work was done on my paid time –that is, a financial donation to the RWA from RLC. Given the lack of satisfactory 'consultation' experience one option is to bill the Authority for the time contributed.

We have investigated and can find no legal cause for complaint. However questions in parliament about breach of good faith or when is 'consultation' a metaphor for tokenism might be one option.

The sector might want to consider choosing not to participate any further. However experience suggests it is always better to be at the table than outside the tent.

Helen Campbell, Redfern Legal Centre
16 August 2007