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Redfern Oval : A Good & Healthy Compromise

This media release was issued by Ian Thomson on behalf of Open Up Redfern Park, the community grtoup that has been campaigning for the Oval to be oppened up to community use.

On Monday Council resolved to pursue the Concept Master Plan proposed for Redfern Oval.

This Concept Master Plan provides for a ground capable of holding crowds in relative comfort upto 8,000 largely on mounding as today, an undercover stand of some 700, and a professionally developed and maintained football training ground for use by the Souths Football Club.  The latter is a major ongoing commitment for Council.

The decision also requires the need for fencing to be reviewed.  And if required Council will seek designs to emphasise through the fencing and gates the historical and one hopes ongoing involvement with Souths.  Gates facing all four directions, will be open during the day permitting use by the whole community, and closed overnight to minimise inappropriate behaviour should this be a real issue.

Our view is this proposal is a good and healthy compromise for our community.

This is a community with a need for genuine open space, and active recreational space including sportsfields.  A ground which can be used by all elements of the community for their health by walking, running and being active.  It is becoming increasingly well documented that access to and design and appeal of parks and grounds is crucial to the well being of individuals and the community.

An open ground is critical in the heart of a high density residential area.

The improved ground access will mean the young Koorie kids playing on Phillip St this afternoon will be welcome and able to use the ground.  This will give them the real opportunity to meet and learn from the NRL footballers – for effective and simple mentoring programs to be implemented as it arises in this case.  The players will be visible role models in our community throughout the week during training and fitness sessions – this would not exist with a closed, over built and restricted ground implied by greater development options.

It is argued that other grounds exist around Redfern, but we should recall these are on the other side of major roads, endangering the lives of our community’s kids.  Is it desirable to force young kids onto the streets and across such thoroughfares?

This proposal provides for a genuine return by Souths to Redfern after many years away.

Our community and this oval has in the past had a long association with Souths – although this really ended when they took the short walk to better facilities at what is now Aussie Stadium at the end of the 1987 season, almost a generation ago.  In the debate over the last couple of Mondays the Club protested at the cost of Aussie Stadium – why, do they think the Council will give them a free ride at Redfern and lift the Alcohol free zoning?

Some believe a football stadium at Redfern is needed; but this view does not recognise that this will be state of the art training ground, a place of excellence, available for all levels of league played by Souths from the NSW League games through the Juniors – the Juniors are still welcome, and so is the Koorie Knockout a real social event facilitated by the ability to readily move around and meet each other without the restriction of allocated, bucket seating.  We may even see the Redfern All Blacks play more often in Redfern.

A Stadium would lock many in our community out.

The core points Our Park has repeatedly made is that the ground must be open and accessible by kids to kick a ball, to the community for their well being, for the Juniors and Koorie Knockout, and to be used more.

Redfern Oval is a resource for us and the Council has reached a difficult and healthy compromise pushing the design boundaries to the full.

Ian Thomson
0413 483 247