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You are here: Home / Other RW Issues / Public Housing / Redevelopment / Consultation & Community Engagement / Comments on Proposed HAF Master Plan Community Engagement

Comments on Proposed HAF Master Plan Community Engagement

Housing NSW circulated a Draft Community Engagement Action Plan for the Redfern and Waterloo Masterplan looking for feedback in May. They received some feedback including comments from The Factory and REDWatch. Subsequently there has been a meeting with Housing and we are awaiting a revised draft. HNSW have asked that we not put their document up on the REDWatch website until it is finalised so we are unable to share it with you. What we can do to provide some transparency is to provide make our comments available which will provide some idea of the areas of concern to REDWatch and the Factory. These are provided below.

Michael Shreenan feedback on the Master Plan Engagement Draft Plan

Here are some of my initial thoughts on the initial draft engagement plan, apologies for the delay but it has been a hectic few weeks. Please also excuse my dyslexia, in this response but haven’t add time to run it pass someone else for editing.

First of all congratulations on consulting on the consultation process, for this we take our hat off to you, as often before agencies have ran into an engagement process without establishing agreement between all parties involved, this often is where projects go off the rails.


Ensuring the community ownership of the process from the start to end, with support of NGO’s, Residents, community leaders and Government agencies is the only way to ensure the processes success.

However you might find the time constraint place on you by external factors may make this difficult to achieve, and reaching agreement with the diversity of opinion in this community will take considerable time.

Therefore were possible I would be inclined to support this call when you are liaising with the funder of the process to be more flexible in their timelines as the significance of the process is too important to rush through in way that is purely to satisfy political or bureaucratic processes.

There two issues that believe should be clarified under Context heading.

What specific areas will the Master Plan cover Eg. Will it exclude the areas not covered by the BE2, identified sites or will it encompass all Housing NSW sites?

During the consultation process what areas of genuine influence will the community have vs. what decisions are already taken or out with the privy of this process be able to be affected.

EG if the community say no to the moving of 700 unit to other areas is this changeable?  If they say no to social- mix/ tenure mix buildings..?   During any consultation process we believe it to be important to be clear on what the community can influence and what they can’t , therefore to avoiding energy been wasted on debating issues that are out with our control/influence.   In addition we need to be clear to what level of specifics the Master Plan will cover. Will it cover the design of the individual units..? The accessories that may or may not go with those units, Air-condition, fly screens, fences, garden design, waste services, Nosier reduction measures, etc.

Also given recent history you will be aware that some residents and even agencies were not aware that some of the events leading up to the BE2 process were capacity building or consulting, future events should be clear on their purpose and agenda, to ensure residents are not taking by surprise in the future.

Also encourage where possible the involvement and engagement of Private residents in this process, and any identifiable people who may be moving into the area in the future. (People on the waiting list)

Integrating BE2

No comments on this, except to say will the MP process be able to affected the planning framework, if during your consultation process you find significant difference in views that might call for a rethink of whatever is agreed through the statutory BE2 process which I assume may be completed before the MP.

Principles of engagement

On first glance they appear to be of text book good practice, however I would possible challenge the order in which they are in. I.e. Capacity building should be first!

Housing place great value on its funded services to be accountable with performance measures through the RBA process, and therefore should use the same process to evidence their own performance in community engagement.

In this community the issues of standards in engagement have been debated at length and possibly through this process, the forthcoming Groundswell group, we may be able to agree a set of standards, principles and measure’s that all parties can adhere to.

The only issue I have with the principles outline is there is no mention of independent advocacy or resourcing of independent advocacy or access to independent experts to inform the community.  Current funded services would argue that in the past when advocacy has been made, this has been to their own ‘political’ detriment. Therefore there needs to be safety measures and agreement put in place to ensure that when either a resident or an agency share it views, can do so in way that there will be no consequences directly or indirectly from their participation in the process.

Recent example of this is when resident was quoted in a local new paper article; they were allegedly approached by a housing staff expressing their ‘disappointment ‘at the negative comments. This can lead to perception of intimidation, and people experience fear of speaking out when sharing their own perceptions (whether they are factual, perceived or not) a Resident or an agency should be free to express their feeling and beliefs without fear or constraint in any shape or form, and respectful disagreement is acceptable part of the debating process.

There also a lot of historical mistrust of Government Agencies engagement in the area, particular with the vocal in our community, some of which is justifiably so.  Example of the cause of this is recently is when community where promised both verbal and in writing at senior level that there would be no reduction of stock in the area, then it is announced there will reduction of 700.

There should be a penalty on Government as there is on NGO’s funded services when there is failure to honour promises, timelines, and poor service delivery, as it’s only fair. (hey I am a dreamer)

Key Strategies and Activates

As verbally feedback at the service coordination meeting, we are extremely concerned about the volume of activities current been placed on this community with current engagement activities, by under resourced NGO’s and partners before we add any additional activities. We are really in danger of participation overload and possible causing burn out of local community workers, local volunteers and residents. I am not sure what to recommend avoiding this but it is worth serious consideration.

We would encourage the integration of your process with the existing ones were possible, ensure avoidance in relation to clashes of activities and concentrate more on quality than quantity.

We are also concerned as previously stated that the timeline is too tight We need to ensure activities are genuine and not just tick in the box exercises.

Whiles I accept that street based activities can establish great volume contact I am not convinced they attract genuine feedback, as people need to be full informed, given time to process the advice given, before been asked for feedback. The utilising of incentives such as show bag etc. will attract numbers but not honest and forthright feedback, as people tend to be much nicer when your feeding them or giving gifts than say they would be in a public meeting.

Activities may have to be more specific, i.e. list what groups you will engage with, what agencies? Etc. thereby it will make it easier for us to identify possible gaps.

Sampling material of the target market would be good before wide based distribution, to ensure readability, acceptable language, etc.

There should be the refunding of RedWater news to ensure residents views are also spread to fellow tenants and in an independent manner.

Possible additional resources for current funded Housing NSW services to participate in the process without being at detriment to their current service provision should be explored. They may also be best placed able to lead in certain processes and their credibility as is the trust between them and residents is much higher by locals that as with Government workers or outside consultants.

The draft list of master plan key area and grouping of topic areas may need some work and additions as will the community areas of concern.

I believe the documentation of the process through filming etc. would be of enormous value at the end of the process to ensure lesson learned for other areas.

I believe you should have a MOU between participating parties before this process commences with agreement from all stakeholders

I also reiterate what was submitted by Redwatch and the Factory on the BE2 consultation process, to ensure that feedback is incorporated to this document

I believe Groundswell we be good place to have dialogue with both Ngo and Community activists in reaching such agreements.

I believe you and your team role should be made clearer in the community and involvement in current community projects may be blurring those lines. For example your involvement (whilst welcomed) in the Redfern NAB Review would probe have been best left to HCP, TPRS and the Team leader who have the longer-term responsibility once your team goes.

Also would encourage you to be supportive but not interfering with other people projects.

For Example whilst HCP supports your activities to date, your team involvement say in utilising RedWater Markets as engagement opportunity has been declined, utilising the Factory as bases for the BE2 consultations was withdrawn at last minute, the suggest combining of your newsletter with the residents newsletter was not taken up, the taking over of the Redfern Safety Audit and delay in progressing release of the report, the recent non-attendance at the Volunteer Awards, the non-communication on recently commenced work such as the landscape plan at Lawson building, the cancelling of meeting as last minute, or the announcement of activities one week before their due date, and claim that agencies feedback is at odds with residents in such was to question their validity,  is all disappointing and frustrating . Now while their all relatively understandable minor matter, together leads to needless negativity.

These are all my unpolished initial comments, and one would assume in due course you will be consulting residents on this document and we may have more to add once we had those conversations with residents.

However we do understand you have been given an extremely difficult and challenging position to fulfil and we remain committed to supporting you, working positively with you where we can, but our first concern always has and always will be the welfare of our service users and ensuring their views are heard.

In good sprit, respect, trying to be helpful and without prejudice

Best Regards,

Michael M Shreenan

Executive Officer
The Factory Community Centre

Convener of Redwatch

Comments Provided to HNSW and Groundswell by Geoff Turnbull - REDWatch Spokesperson

Initial Comments on Draft HNSW Community Engaugement Plan for Discussion within REDWatch

  • Is this theme right – especially if HNSW tenants in the conservation area are to be excluded from renovated places?  Maybe:  Imagine – Better Public Housing in Redfern and Waterloo is a better catch phrase?
  • Purpose to include improved public housing throughout Redfern, Waterloo, Eveleigh and Darlington and not just consolidated public housing area – must include improvement for public housing tenants in the conservation area and the 700 units to be displaced from Redfern and Waterloo.
  • MasterPlan and BEP2 are not to overlap unless there is a co-ordinated community engagement process agreed with the community which makes staging feasible for the community.
  • The Masterplan is to respect views inconsistent with the BEP2 and explore how these can be accommodated. At the end of the process the Masterplan may recommend revisiting part of the planning framework. This is particularly important given the low level of considered involvement in the initial BEP2 consultation and many people will not find these are set in stone until during the HAF Masterlpan process.
  • It is not accepted within the community that the work undertaken by HNSW in 2010-2011 was either a community engagement process (eg what was taken out of what NGO’s & Community Groups told HNSW about how to consult the community) or Capacity Building (that helped tenants better understand and deal with BEP2). Consultation and Capacity building need to be planned out as if none of this has happened!
  • The critical risk for Govt is not having a fair dinkum engagement with the community.
  • Based on BEP2 consultation NGO’s dealing daily with tenants have a very different views about what tenants concerns were to HNSW & RWA. This is evident in the submissions and is recognised by HNSW and RWA. This seems to be a function of the consultation processes used and the capacity of those consulted to understand and respond to complex issues.
  • Given this divergence of view no further consultation should be done by Govt until a consultation process is agreed between Government, Agencies and resident bodies. Groundswell may be a vehicle for this this discussion to happen within the community. A subsequent meeting of residents, NGO’s and Govt may be necessary for a more detailed discussion about how future consultations take place.
  • The draft strategy does not contain enough detail to be able to ensure that divergent views do not emerge from this consultation. Central to this is how Capacity building related to the area that is to be consulted about is integrated into each part of the plan and how the success or otherwise of each consultation component is to be judged or assessed. One simple guide will be did Govt and the NGO’s get told the same thing – if not there is a problem that needs to be explored further.
  • In terms of the paper how are HNSW going to make the Living Communities Engagement schema work approach by approach?
  • Nothing about process (or anything else) regarding Community Visioning Sessions. These should not start until the consultation framework is agreed with the community.
  • For each Approach listed there are what and how questions unanswered. How for example do they plan to approach existing groups? How do they plan to engage their various target groups? How do they plan to use street corners for consultation and community building on issues?
  • Nothing on testing materials for appropriateness / readability etc
  • Master planning Expo – will there be an opportunity for a range of voices to be there – eg CoS, REDWatch, PIA, Tenants Union etc. How much do HNSW want tenants to have the questions raised and be able to make considered responses? If they do want this what will be built into the process to raise the possible issues / problems that need to be considered.
  • What will happen to ensure the inconvenient truths of poor maintenance, problems for lack of support services / tenant disruption / fear of safety etc are dealt with during the process?
  • Questions about Draft Key Topic Areas – are these all? Are they the most appropriate groupings for residents? Where will people with an interest in parking, housing management, build quality, maintenance, disruptive tenants or other issues tenants are interested in go?

Geoff Turnbull 11 May 2011

Comments re RWA BEP2

  • We need to know what Consult Now found in their analysis of the last round on BEP2 especially regarding the consultation. This may throw some light on the apparent difference in views between Govt and NGO's over the consultation process for BEP2 which needs to be addressed before the next BEP2 round.

General Comments on Consultation

  • Consultation frameworks and processes are both to be agreed with the key NGO’s and community bodies before being finalised (Groundswell may be the best mechanism)
  • The Consultation Framework to be in the public domain well prior to consultation starting so everyone can see what is proposed and how it all fits together.
  • There should be a capacity building requirement assessment of the proposed consultation undertaken to ensure that the community has the capacity to assess that which will be placed before them for their feedback.  
  • The Capacity building programme and process needs to be agreed the community. Capacity building should be delivered prior to the consultation unless there is a good process reason why this is not possible.
  • All written materials must be tested to ensure they are at a suitable language and concept level for the community that is to be consulted.
  • Key material should also be available in key community languages.
  • There must be verbal presentations to allow people of low literacy or verbal preference to assimilate the material.
  • People need to know about other views on the consultation topic if they are to provide a considered response in the consultation. All material and presentations should as far as possible provide a fair and balanced presentation of the background information and not just that which supports the proponents proposal.

Geoff Turnbull 12 May 2011