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Price of revamp - Authority to consult on new social agenda - 13.04.2005

Alexandra Walker in the SydneyCentral Courier reports that Amid media reports of financial uncertainty, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority has begun its community consultation process, holding meetings to discuss the future of human services in the area. Reports surfaced on Monday that the authority is facing a financial crisis that will require it to seek loans of up to $36 million.

At the time of going to press, a spokeswoman for Frank Sartor, the minister in charge of the authority, said that there would be no comment on the media reports.

Last week, before the reports emerged, two sessions were held at Redfern PCYC, where residents were invited to discuss four “priority areas” including youth, families and children, services for Aboriginal people and health.

A spokesman for the authority described the meetings as “positive”. “We were really happy with the initial consultation process” he said. “We got a strong indication of where people wanted to go”.

The spokesman said that among the key concerns to emerge were a desire for the area to be less violent, for there to be more jobs for young people and for the area to be safer and happier for families. Redfern resident Geoff Turnbull attended the first discussion session and said he agreed that those elements were present but said that a number of others were also mentioned. Mr Turnbull said that along with jobs, his group talked about the need for young people to feel a connection to the area.

“Part of the difficulty with this is that you’re talking about an area with complex problems and you have to distil that into a couple of motherhood statements.” Mr Turnbull said.

A report is being put together detailing what came out of the meeting and Mr Turnbull said he believes that the report should be made available to the public.

“If you are going to have a report that says, ‘This is what the community thinks’, then we really should have the opportunity to look at it.” He said.

A spokesman for the authority said the report would be made available to cluster groups but said it was an internal working document and would not be made available to the public. More meetings are being scheduled for May.