Pemulwuy ushers in new era for Aboriginal Housing Company
Last week Central exclusively revealed that the Pemulwuy redevelopment of the Block had received concept plan approval from NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally.
Aboriginal Housing Company CEO Mick Mundine hopes the $60-million project will transform the Block and the lives of his people.
“The Pemulwuy project is a critical project for Sydney,” Mr Mundine said. “The fact the State Government delayed the project for so many years is a disgrace. But it’s great that they have come to the party.”
The development application for Pemulwuy includes 62 new houses for Aboriginal families living in Eveleigh St and will include social support programs. Overall, more than 15,000sq m of floor area for a range of commercial, retail, cultural and community uses will be built. Aboriginal Housing Company project director Peter Valilis first joined the project 10 years ago to co-ordinate a major revitalisation of the Block.
Mr Valilis said he could never have guessed just how long it would take to reach this point.
“Ten years long. Honest to God I am so exhausted I can’t even feel excited, but it will kick in later,” an emotional Mr Valilis said. “The minister signed the development application consent for the master plan, the concept plan for the whole lot. This is the big one, they agreed to everything.”
Mr Mundine said much of the delay to the project had been initially caused by the State Government’s unwillingness to have any Aboriginal housing on the Block, something the Aboriginal community refused to even consider.
“If it was not because of this Government, the development would have happened by now,” he said. “A lot of it was a personal agenda held by [former planning minister] Frank Sartor and we all know once he has made up his mind, he won’t change it. It seems he took a dislike to the project early on.
“The outcome is good, but it took a long time.”
Individual development applications will now need to be submitted for the various parts of the development and the Aboriginal Housing Company will need to seek private capital to finance the development.
Mr Mundine said he was confident this could be achieved now the final planning hurdle imposed by the State Government had been withdrawn.
Ms Keneally said she had worked with the Aboriginal Housing Company since becoming Planning Minister almost a year ago.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said continued consultation, sensitive planning and design excellence were crucial to the success of the project as the concept plan was translated into a final design and development.
“The Pemulwuy Project responds to the long-standing need for culturally appropriate and accessible Aboriginal housing. The project will strengthen the sense of community in the area by respecting and reflecting Aboriginal culture and spirituality,” Cr Moore said.
Photo: Phil Rogers: Michael Mundine, CEO of Aboriginal Housing Company.