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Millers Point Social Housing Support Minute by the Lord Mayor

At the City of Sydney Council Meeting of 7 April 2014, Council accepted the recomendations below in the Lord Mayor's Minute to provide support to Millers Point following the NSW Government decision to move out all Millers point public tenants. The Text of the Minute is provided below.


To Council:

On Wednesday 19 March 2014, the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward MP announced the sale of 293 properties affecting around 400 residents in Millers Point, Gloucester Street and the Sirius building in The Rocks within a two year period.

The announcement was shocking and the way it was delivered was cruel. As recently as two days earlier, on Monday 17 March 2014, the Minister assured people that no decision had been made and that they would be consulted.

Despite repeated requests to release a Social Impact Assessment Study that the Government contracted to assess impacts of a potential sale, the documents were only uploaded to the Department of Family and Community Services website hours before the Minister’s announcement.

Their announcement included selling Sirius - a 1980’s building which could easily be retained to allow older tenants to age in place. The plan to include Sirius had not been previously discussed, nor was it included as part of the Social Impact Assessment Study.

As both Lord Mayor and the former Member for Bligh/Sydney, I called on successive NSW Governments to maintain and protect public housing in this historic precinct.

The City of Sydney has formally opposed the sale of these properties since 2006 when the former Labor Government proposed the sale of 99 year leases for 36 properties. In 2010, Council again re-affirmed our opposition to these sales. In both cases, Liberal and Labor Councillors voted against the motion.

For 189 years Millers Point has been a living example of a close, socially mixed community and, in 2003, was listed on the State Heritage Register as “a living cultural landscape”. Housing NSW’s Conservation Management Guidelines 2007 describes Millers Point as “a priceless asset of the people of NSW and Australia”.

Many residents have connections that go back generations. They can talk vividly about Sydney’s history as a working harbour and have an irreplaceable connection to their local neighbourhood.

This connection and this community are important for our city.

The Social Impact Study argues that funding from the sale should be used to build new housing within the Millers Point area and surrounding suburbs, especially for older residents.

Community members in Millers Point also gave the Government alternative proposals that would have allowed the majority of the community to remain together.

But the Minister has ignored community proposals, as well as many of the recommendations of the Social Impact Study. There has been no commitment to use funds raised to invest in new social and affordable housing in Millers Point and surrounding suburbs.

On Saturday 22 March 2014, I spoke at a public meeting convened by Alex Greenwich, the Member for Sydney at the Abraham Mott Hall in Millers Point. This public meeting was attended by over 300 local residents.

Many people spoke emotionally about their supportive networks, particularly as they age, and their deep love and pride for their neighbourhood. Many were distraught.

Tragically, we are starting to hear terrible stories about the impact this decision is having on residents. Attachment A is an extract from an email sent to the Member for Sydney from a resident named John Arnold about his neighbour.

It is my strong belief that Millers Point residents have been denied a fair process.

Support for the community

The Millers Point community has asked the City for support, both directly and indirectly.

There is a clear need for personal support, counselling and legal advice The three Millers Point residents groups - the Millers Point Public Housing Tenants Advisory Group, CORE and the Millers Point Resident Action Group - have resolved to form a coalition to fight the sale. This group will be called the Millers Point Community Defence Group.

The Defence Group is seeking Council’s support. Their letter is contained in Attachment B.

A number of services including Shelter NSW, the Tenants Union, the Inner West Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, the Inner City Council for Social Development and Redfern Legal Centre, have indicated that they want to support the community but need space for their work. I believe the City should provide access to our facilities where possible. Additional capacity is needed to help some services deal with the size and scope of this issue.

The Redfern Legal Centre has been operating in the City since 1977 and is based in Redfern Town Hall. The Centre is funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments and philanthropic sources. It also receives an accommodation grant from the City for its office space and some City grant funding for small education projects. The Centre provides a much needed service offering confidential legal information, advice and advocacy to tenants living in public and private residential housing in the City of Sydney, Botany Bay and Leichhardt Local Government Areas. Like most Legal Centres across NSW, the service is currently at capacity.

In order to ensure that Redfern Legal Centre can support 400 residents impacted by the Millers Point public housing, I propose that the City provides additional grant funding to Redfern Legal Centre to engage additional staff to:

  • conduct free tenant information and advice drop in sessions;
  • conduct one-on-one legal advice sessions for impacted residents;attend meetings between tenants and Housing NSW to provide support and advice in relation to any transition program or new tenancy;
  • develop factual information relating to tenants’ rights, responsibilities and the relocation process for distribution to impacted residents;
  • assist in the preparation of correspondence associated with the relocation program; and
  • advocate to Housing NSW and other Government agencies on behalf of tenants.


It is resolved that:

(A) Council call on the NSW Government to halt the proposed sale of the Millers Point social housing estate, including the Sirius building;

(B) Council call on the NSW Government to support frail and elderly tenants to remain in their homes to allow them to age in place;

(C) Council call on the NSW Government to reinvest funds in new social housing homes in Millers Point and adjacent areas if the sales proceed;

(D) Council approve access free-of-charge in the City’s community facilities to organisations and qualified staff to deliver relevant support services, including tenancy advice, legal advice, counselling and mental health services, to any residents impacted by the Millers Point public housing sale, in accordance with the City’s community venue hire procedures;

(E) Council approve the allocation of up to $100,000 in cash to Redfern Legal Centre over the next 12 months (including the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial year) to support tenant support, advocacy and advice services to public housing tenants impacted by the sale;

(F) Council approve the allocation of up to $10,000 to the Millers Point Community Defence Group or an appropriate auspice organisation for work to support residents; and

(G) authority be delegated to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to enter into appropriate funding agreements with the Redfern Legal Centre and the Millers Point Community Defence Group or an appropriate auspice organisation and report back via a CEO Update.


Lord Mayor

Moved by the Chair (the Lord Mayor), seconded by Councillor Kemmis –