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Open letter from Michael Mundine to Frank Sartor Minister for Redfern Waterloo - 07.09.2005

The following open letter appeared as an Exlcusive in Sydney Central Courier on 7th Septemeber 2005 in response to an open letter from Redfern Waterloo Minister Frank Sartor.

Minister Frank Sartor,

What I find most disturbing in your open letter to me in the Redfern Waterloo Authority August 2005 newsletter, is that you have grossly misrepresented the Pemulwuy Project and spread fear that the Block could become a ghetto again. The commercial developments that you have suggested should be on the Block are features already present in our master plan.

Facts about the Pemulwuy Project:

  • Originally there were over 102 homes owned by the AHC (now demolished) on and around the Block. The Pemulwuy Project will replace only 62.
  • The suggestion that 19 houses is a sustainable number for the Block is wrong. There are 19 houses on the Block now and this was not enough to stop last year's riot.
  • Reducing the number of houses proposed by the Pemulwuy Project will seriously compromise the community's ability to respond to crime and anti-social behaviour. The area requires a critical mass of people to ensure it remains safe.
  • The AHC has won an international award for crime prevention and community safety strategies.
  • The Pemulwuy Project is driven by an award winning Social Plan and is not an architectural response.
  • The Pemulwuy Project is not about high-dependency housing. Two thirds of the proposed housing will be available for homeownership and only as few as 20 homes will be available for low income rental.
  • The Pemulwuy Project includes an Indigenous business college, a retail/office centre, a student hostel, a museum, a culture centre, Aboriginal markets and a fitness centre.
  • The AHC has engaged independent professional advisors to oversee the Pemulwuy' Project, chaired by the Hon Tom Uren, AO.
  • The AHC has worked in partnership with the NSW Premier's department for over three years.
  • The AHC has never asked for funding from the NSDW Government for the Pemulwuy Project, and is exploring a range of other funding options.

I can say with a high degree of confidence that the Block will never become a ghetto again. The AHC, with crime prevention experts and urban planners, has developed strategies to avoid a high dependency situation from re-occurring.

The Pemulwuy Project promises great benefits:

  • The Block is a modern sacred site for Aboriginal people, its renewal will result in greater cultural pride and self respect.
  • Safer environment for children in a low crime, drug-free neighbourhood.
  • Greater opportunities for Aboriginal education and employment.
  • Opportunities for Aboriginal enterprise by making Redfern a cultural tourism precinct.
  • Unprecedented affordable home ownership in the inner-city for Aboriginal families.
  • Practical reconciliation not welfare handouts.
  • Self-determination in action.

Your letter goes on to urge me to ignore "consultants and nay-sayers. As CEO it is my responsibility to seek independent advice from a range of sources. The Board of the Aboriginal Housing Company and the members of the organisation have debated all the options. You may not like the decision but the AHC members unanimously chose to reject your amendments to the Project, on the grounds that the changes would seriously compromise the future social sustainability of the community. Despite your attempts to blame me for delays, I will continue to fight for the rights of my people to have a future in Redfern.

The vision for the Block is already there, the hard work has already been done, all you have to do now Minister is open your heart and mind to the wonderful future we can achieve for Redfern.


Michael Mundine Snr
Chief Executive Officer
Aboriginal Housing Company,

Editor's note: This is an abridged version of the original letter sent for publication.