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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Human Services Plans / Waterloo Human Services Plan / REDWatch Request to FACS for Human Services Plan

REDWatch Request to FACS for Human Services Plan

The email below (which has been slightly altered for the website) was sent to the FACS Deputy Secretaries responsible for FACS Housing at Waterloo and FACS Land and Housing Corporation and FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter. It provides an outline of a long push to get Human Services on the agenda alongside the Waterloo Master Plan.

I write to you about the need to address the human service integration issues facing public housing in the lead up to the Waterloo master planning. We have not been able to get this addressed in our conversations with your staff. LAHC staff tell us it will be led by FACS but we have seen no recent progress.

You may recall in early 2016, Minister Hazzard attended a public meeting at The Factory when, REDWatch Co-ord member and subsequent City of Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor, Irene Doutney raised the need for the redevelopment to deal with the problems in human service integration for public housing tenants.  The Minister agreed this was crucial and it was followed up.

We subsequently met with Mandy Young on a couple of occasions and held an initial workshop to kick off a process in July 2016. However then Mandy left that position, amalgamations happened and other staff we had worked with, such as Brett Louat, also left. Michael Shreenan, the EO of Counterpoint, and Charmaine Jones, the EO of Inner Sydney Voice, have been attempting to progress the Waterloo human services discussion within FACS without success. The result is that there has been no progress on the human services integration discussion since July 2016.

This is not new for Redfern and Waterloo. When The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project place management team came into the area in 2001, it was to try to address human services concerns. The RWA and a couple of human service plans later, human service co-ordination was wound up with the RWA and its Human Services Ministerial Advisory Committee (HSMAC) disbanded.

We pushed again to get some attention around human service co-ordination when police and health were at loggerheads over the needle-dispensing machine in Redfern, but failed to get the agencies, which came around that table on that issue, to connect to the broader on-the-ground issues and problems that human service agencies were facing.

With the Waterloo master plan we are reminded of one of Ross Smith’s favourite sayings – “I haven’t met an anti-social building yet”. The master plan looks primarily at social housing through a bricks and mortar lens but public housing also includes the people. Many are people with high and complex needs who need an integrated human services program in place to allow them to achieve a successful tenancy and to allow their neighbours to have quiet enjoyment of their tenancies. This applies equally to tenants now and will be that much more acute, in our view, if they are living in 3.5 times greater densities than exist at present in Waterloo. REDWatch has long argued that a redevelopment in Waterloo cannot succeed if it does not involve a robust integrated human services program however while the master plan studies are under way the arguably more difficult human services discussion is nowhere to be seen.

We are aware of the suggestion that broader human service co-ordination discussions at state and regional level could be extended to include a local element covering Waterloo but we have been unable to finds out how this might operate or address our concerns. We are concerned that starting from the state level and working down may take a long time to get to the on the ground issues that need to be addressed. The built environment planning could well be finalised without the necessary human services plan.

We would like to suggest an alternative approach. We would like to see a place-based look at the human service issues in Waterloo with a view to implementing processes that will address the problems identified. This would address what needs to happen to improve human services coordination for public tenants now, as well as into the future when Waterloo is redeveloped. It should also highlight the on-the-ground issues that need to be considered in state-wide and regional human services planning especially around social housing estates.

While we have had no traction with FACS in this discussion, we have been working with local agencies like Counterpoint, Inner Sydney Voice and Sydney Local Health District around health issues in Waterloo. This will see SLHD employ a health link worker to help connect across their silos in Waterloo, an equity-focused Health Impact Assessment and a Waterloo health forum in late September.

We are also in discussion with the City of Sydney about the need for robust human service approaches to be developed in conjunction with the master plan.

We are of the view that the Health initiatives provide an ideal opportunity for FACS and LAHC to work with Health and other human services players locally to explore how the human services system can be better co-ordinated to deliver wrap-around responsive services for the people with high and complex needs who are given priority access to Waterloo public housing.

We are also of the view that this discussion needs to involve not only State human service providers, but also on the ground input from NGOs and ideally, like the RWA HSMAC, also include Federal service providers. This is especially so with gaps potentially emerging with the move of aged and disability services from the state to the federal government. Social housing has a concentration of people who are potentially impacted by these changes and by any failure of new federal programmes to fully mesh with state services to provide wrap around support.

We would be happy to meet and discuss this proposal with you and to work with FACS, LAHC, other human service providers and our partner local agencies to help put together a robust human services plan for Waterloo social housing that works for tenants with high and complex needs now and into the future.

For REDWatch however time is of the essence as we could not support a master plan for Waterloo without a comprehensive human services plan accompanying it.

Kind Regards,


Geoffrey Turnbull

REDWatch Co-Spokesperson