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SMH Letters 7th-11tt March 2005

Following the SMH article "Hardly a black face on the Block - Sartor's vision for Redfern", there were a number of letters criticval of the Minister. On March 8th the Minister replied followed by Michael Mundine CEO of the AHC on March 11th. The letters that appeared in the SMH are below.

It's time for a Frank explanation of Redfern plan SMH Letters March 7, 2005

So Frank Sartor bows to the big developers and abolishes Aboriginal accommodation on the Block in Redfern ("Hardly a black face on the Block - Sartor's vision for Redfern", Herald, March 5-6). Their housing will be dispersed throughout the suburbs, presumably because developers state that house buyers would prefer not to live in an area with a predominance of Aboriginal neighbours.

What an outcry there would be if other groups, who prefer to live in proximity to their own kind, such as the Jews in Bondi or the fundamental Christians in the Hills area or the Liberals on the North Shore, were told to leave their chosen home sites, in case prospective buyers were turned off by their presence. But, of course, those groups are white and privileged.

Inner Redfern was selected for Aboriginal housing in the 1970s, when racial discrimination and bigotry were actually decreasing. Does this mean that in the past several decades both state and federal governments have reverted to the policy of segregation for our Aboriginal citizens?

Or is it just another example of Big Developers rule, OK?

Pat Keating Stockton

When he's done with Redfern Mr Sartor should do something about the Italians on Norton Street, the Chinese in Haymarket and the Brazilians outside the Bondi Pavilion. I also suggest he refurbish Liverpool and get rid of the Serbs, then Auburn and relocate the Arabs, and Cabramatta to take care of the Vietnamese.

Oh! He's also the perfect candidate for letting the Bra Boys know they're not welcome in their home suburb of Maroubra. If he's as smart and successful at doing it as he has been at forgetting whose country this is, Mr Sartor could reinvent the meaning of what it is to be Australian within the next decade.

Unless anyone produces a statement that a single person of Aboriginal descent agrees with Mr Sartor's request to take the Block away from its Aboriginal residents, it becomes embarrassingly clear that his position has nothing to do with the social betterment of Redfern. Rather, he is a participant in racist-based capitalist games.

Bojana Novakovic South Strathfield

Frank Sartor's vision is to have hardly a black face on the Block. With regard to Aboriginal policy, there hasn't been much change in 217 years.

Kay Kan Cheltenham

Tim Dick must have been mistaken. I can't believe a minister in a Carr Labor government or any Labor government would tell the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company that their vision for their own land, the 62-homes plan, is not a sustainable vision. Then decline to say why! This doesn't sound like the Frank Sartor I have known over the past 15 years. He at least should have the courage to say why. If he won't explain, then the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Dr Andrew Refshauge, should.

Does this Labor Government want to see the inner-city Aboriginal community treated in a fair and just manner, or is it just crawling to its developer mates? The inner-city Aboriginal community and the whole country is owed a Frank explanation.

Trevor Davies Darlington

No point arguing around the Block all over again SMH Letters March 8th 2005

In reading your Letters section (March 7) one might be forgiven for thinking it is Groundhog Day. The two hoary old untruths are back: it's a developer-led conspiracy and people who want a new and sustainable vision for Redfern's Block must be racist. What rubbish. As someone who chaired the Aboriginal Housing Company's advisory committee in the 1980s, I believe it's time to find a new vision for the Block and its immediate environs.

The company's proposal calls for 62 medium-density dwellings on the Block. But reconcentrating high-dependency housing there is a repeat of previous mistakes. Moreover, the Government is being asked to find $25 million to $30 million for this experiment.

My dialogue with the company is based on two propositions: let's set up a working group to develop a new vision for the Block and its surrounds, and let's not rehouse any more than the 19 existing tenancies. The Government would find the balance of the proposed 62 tenancies nearby.

The Eveleigh Street precinct needs to once again become a place of optimism and positive expression for Aboriginal people - a positive icon, not a negative icon. It's time to find a sustainable solution.

Frank Sartor Minister responsible for Redfern, Sydney.

Sartor is undoing years of work on the Block SMH Letters 11th March 2003

With all due respect to Frank Sartor (Letters, March 8), the Aboriginal Housing Company has spent the past five years planning a sustainable and responsible vision for the Block. Most importantly, the vision is an Aboriginal vision and not one handed down by government in the typical mission manager style of the past 200 years.

For the record, over the past three years the NSW Government has supported, encouraged and even funded the plans developed by the company for 62 Aboriginal homes on the Block.

The suggestion now that the company's proposal is an experiment that reconcentrates high-dependency housing and a repeat of previous mistakes is bewildering, to say the least. We are at a loss to understand the minister's opposition to the project, given that all the issues he has raised as a concern have been resolved with the assistance of the NSW Government over the past couple of years.

Michael Mundine snr CEO, Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company, Redfern