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Groundswell coming to Redfern and Waterloo

A coalition of Redfern and Waterloo non-government agencies has resolved to facilitate an on-going discussion and community empowerment process independent of government reports Michael Davis in City News on 12th May 2011.

At a recent meeting the agencies recognised a discerning lack of support for the community in understanding development and public housing issues, and subsequently endeavoured to form “Groundswell”.

Spokesperson for Community Group REDWatch, Geoff Turnbull, said the impetus for forming the Groundswell Agency Coalition stemmed from an unsatisfactory community consultation process in relation to the draft Built Environment Plan Stage 2 (BEP2).

“Our (immediate) concern primarily comes from the consultation put together by the RWA and Housing NSW about the BEP2,” said Mr Turnbull.

“There were concerns both within REDWatch and within human services organisations that worked with people in public housing.

“The way it was being done didn’t enable residents to understand the issues they were being consulted on and to therefore make an informed response.”

Mr Turnbull said Groundswell is about creating a process that will empower public tenants and residents, enabling them to engage in dialogue with government agencies on a more equal footing.

“If the situation is not improved then there is going to be a very unequal conversation about the future shape of the area,” he said.

“The tenants will be at a real disadvantage”

Mr Turnbull also emphasised that Groundswell was more than a kneejerk reaction to the BEP2 process.

“[The BEP2 consultation] bought to a head some stuff that had been happening for a while,” said Mr Turnbull.

“While the major change is around the redevelopment of the public housing estate, it will be a change that will have much broader implications across the Redfern-Waterloo area.

“And it’s not only the public tenants who need to understand what’s being proposed and what the implications of that are likely to be. There needs to be linkages between public tenants and the private community.”

Skilled professionals in fields such as architecture and planning have committed to joining Groundswell, according to Mr Turnbull. He said their engagement would be invaluable in helping people get their heads around some of the technical jargon.

City of Sydney Councillor, Irene Doutney, said as a Redfern resident and a public housing tenant, she welcomed the initiative.

“[The government agencies] are simply telling people what’s going to happen,” she said.

“They are not seeking real feedback – it’s very rosy views that they’re giving people when in reality these people are going to lose their homes.”

“I don’t think people have a clue what’s going on and they need to have a realistic view of what the future holds.”

REDWatch has resolved to join the Groundswell and has been at the forefront of discussions to date to get it off the ground.

A leaflet has been circulated, to encourage agencies to think about how they might support the Groundswell coalition, but also to encourage people to facilitate a broader conversation in the community.

Source: www.altmedia.net.au/groundswell-coming-to-redfern-and-waterloo/35719