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Minister Sartor's Statement in Response to Community Rally

Following is a response from Minister for Redfern-Waterloo Frank Sartor issued to the media on 11th August 2006 in response to the Protest to Keep The Block in Aboriginal Hands the previous night.


Following is a response from Minister for Redfern-Waterloo Frank Sartor on last night’s community meeting.

In October 2004, Cabinet decided it would not support re-concentrating high-dependency housing on the Block.

Since then, the NSW Government has established the Redfern-Waterloo Authority, with the support of the major political parties, to tackle complex issues in the area and drive urban renewal.

The Government is now finalising the draft Built Environment Plan to revitalise the Redfern-Waterloo area, create new jobs and opportunities and set parameters for future development, including:

  • Create around 18,000 new jobs with a focus on the local workforce;
  • Establish Aboriginal enterprises and cultural facilities;
  • Increase housing choice through around 2,000 new dwellings;
  • Upgrade Redfern Railway Station; and
  • Establish cultural and community facilities.

Community consultation on the draft plan included:

  • two months' public exhibition until 14 April 2006;
  • 15,000 newsletters advising residents of the exhibition of the draft plan and public meetings;
  • 2,000 copies of the draft plan were sent to stakeholders, key organisations and interest groups and community members;
  • public meeting at Redfern Town Hall on 4 March (attended by around 150 people);
  • information and feedback sessions every day for two weeks, from 27 February to 10 March and more.

The NSW Government has also just released the final Employment and Enterprise Plan for Redfern-Waterloo after public consultation (with more detail on how the Government will create 18,000 new jobs for Redfern-Waterloo over the next decade.)

The detailed plan for these jobs includes:

  • Supporting small business growth and hiring local unemployed people through partnerships with state, federal and local governments; and
  • Establishing programs to train locals to fill skills shortages, in particular industries located outside Redfern-Waterloo."

The NSW Government continues to improve opportunities for the local Indigenous community, including:

  • May 2005 – Redfern-Waterloo Authority signs the Jobs Compact with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, to work with employers to improve job skills in the local community and create job opportunities. The deal requires all contracts for construction on State-owned land in Redfern-Waterloo to include tougher provisions aimed at increasing on-site work and training opportunities for locals, particularly indigenous residents. A total 105 jobs for Indigenous people already created.
  • July 2006 - Plans unveiled for the National Indigenous Development Centre, to establish a new precinct for up to 5,000 young people a year and showcase Indigenous culture. Total government and private sector commitment is expected to exceed $34 million.
  • (Expected October 2006) – first course to start at a new Training Centre at North Eveleigh Railyards, to maximise training opportunities for Indigenous people. Up to 120 people are expected to undergo training in the first 12 months, through the $700,000 Redfern-Waterloo Authority-funded project.
  • Indigenous Enterprise Hub established at the Redfern-Waterloo Authority’s Redfern office to support Indigenous business owners. The Authority has developed partnerships with the NSW Department of State and Regional Development and the Commonwealth Dept Employment and Workplace Relations.
  • Redfern-Waterloo Authority has committed $300,000 to restore the former pre-school building opposite the Block, for use as a training centre for the Metropolitan Aboriginal Association Incorporated.
  • Redfern-Waterloo Authority negotiated a deal with NSW Maritime and Sydney Ferries for Tribal Warrior to start Aboriginal Cultural Harbour Cruises from November 2005.
  • Four workshops delivered each year on key business topics, to boost local business skills and help Indigenous people with business planning and financing. A workshop planned for late 2006 will focus on Aboriginal construction companies.
  • Rolling out three Young Achievement Australia Business Skills programs for young Aboriginal people in 2006. The first has begun, working with young mothers in the area. The programs teach business skills and look at creating job opportunities and contributing to the economic development of the Indigenous community.
  • November 2005 – first fishing clinics for Indigenous boys held in Port Stephens, with 15 boys aged 12-16 years attending Alexandria Park Community School. The boys were accompanied by ten respected men from the local Aboriginal community who acted as mentors for the boys.