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NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs Plan – For everywhere but in Redfern? - SSH June 2006

In 2003, the NSW Government agreed to a policy called “Two Ways Together Partnerships: A New Way of Doing Business with Aboriginal People”. It was to run until 2012. Report from The South Sydney Herald June 2006.

This is an extract from the foreword to the plan:

“Two Ways Together is a new way forward for Aboriginal people and Government to work through partnership.

The NSW Government will work with Aboriginal people to lessen and remove social disadvantage, and to ensure that all citizens of NSW share in the benefits that the state has to offer. The NSW Government recognises that Aboriginal people know best the needs of their community. The new Aboriginal Affairs Plan establishes ways to make sure that Aboriginal people have a strong voice in planning and deciding how their needs and aspirations are met. . . .

This Government is proud to establish this Plan as part of its continuing commitment to Aboriginal people.”

When representatives of the NSW Ecumenical Council met with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Premier, it was pointed out in the discussion that this policy is operating in all parts of NSW except the area covered by the Redfern Waterloo Authority.

We reprint an open letter that Rev. Harry Herbert of UnitingCare, which is the social service arm of the Uniting Church, has written to both RWA CEO Robert Domm and Minister Frank Sartor.

An open Letter to RWA CEO, Robert Domm and Minister Frank Sartor

I write on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia (NSW Synod) to express concern that the Draft Built Environment Plan for Redfern Waterloo imposes height and other restrictions on the Everleigh Street precinct. One effect is that the project prepared by the Aboriginal Housing Company would not be able to go ahead.

I urge you to intervene and ensure that the Built Environment Plan for this precinct reflects the NSW Government “Two Ways Together” policy for dealing with Aboriginal Affairs in NSW.

This requires that the plan and government policy reflect the aspirations of Aboriginal people, rather than imposing land use restrictions on the land that they own. Reconciliation requires, as an absolute bare minimum if it is to have any meaning, that Aboriginal people determine the use of Aboriginal land.

We urge you to intervene to ensure that there is consultation with all Aboriginal stakeholders, using a process that they will recognise as reasonable and providing them with an effective voice, and that any restrictions on the use of Aboriginal land in Everleigh Street Precinct reflect their aspirations rather than the imposed will of Government. Only as their aspirations are taken seriously, will the policy of paternalism be truly ended.

Yours sincerely

Rev Harry Herbert

Executive Director

UnitingCare NSW ACT