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REDWatch Co-ordination Group Report for 2011-2012

REDWatch has had another hectic year, in large part due to HNSW undertaking its version of consultation on the Preliminary Master Plan (PMP) between September 2011 and March 2012 with REDWatch needing to make sure that the community had access to information about HNSW’s consultation. Throughout this process HNSW placed only their baseline study on its own website. To ensure that what HNSW did during the consultation was widely accessible REDWatch undertook the job of placing all HNSW Master Plan consultation documents on our website. The result is now also available to other communities facing HNSW’s approach to Master Planning. The REDWatch website averages 7,000 hits a day.

The problem for REDWatch through the process was that HNSW did not want to talk about the big issues they needed to face in the Master Planning of the area. So while they talked to the community about open spaces and how buildings fronted the street, they were not prepared to talk to people about the future of the high-rises, property management, allocations or the many other things that the community saw as being essential for any successful outcome. 

REDWatch ended the year as we started, trying to get transparency in the PMP process and a proper interaction between the PMP and the RWA/SMDA’s BEP2 planning controls. This involved meetings with CEOs of HNSW, SMDA, Minister Hazzard and numerous letters to Ministers. Promises of integration and transparency at the beginning of the process lapsed with the PMP now being considered an internal document. REDWatch has sought undertakings, not yet received, that the PMP would be placed on non-statutory exhibition with its supporting studies prior to its use by Government.

Approaches to the Federal Government which is funding the PMP, through the local member Tanya Plibersek, were useful in putting pressure on HNSW to release some details of the project as well as the reports by HNSW to the Federal Housing Affordability Fund. We at least now know what studies HNSW have undertaken even if they are not publically available or subject to any consultation.

The report from the RWA’s BEP2 consultation, the release of HNSW baseline study, the PMP consultation, the SMDA’s failure to release the Facilities Review and questions about the Social Impact Assessment kept the issue of what is adequate consultation and its reporting back to the community well and truly on the REDWatch agenda. In some cases, such as North Eveleigh, REDWatch held its own public meeting to explore the issues with the communities. In other situations like the ATP Conservation Management Plan we encouraged organisations to have their own public meetings.

REDWatch remained active in broader community initiatives. It continued its membership of the Roll Up Redfern Committee with Council, SMDA, South Sydney Business Chamber and the Rabitohs. It was also active in the Groundswell Coalition which changed direction to initiate an on-going community building training course for local groups rather than focusing on just the single issue of the PMP.

A major initiative in 2011-12 was the formation of Lift Redfern as a broad based campaign to push for lifts at Redfern Station. REDWatch actively supported the formation of Lift Redfern and was involved in the campaign co-ordination, continuing on a long history in the drawn out Redfern station saga. In 2003 we recall being told that unless there was a whole of Government intervention it would not be redeveloped until 2011!

Talking of Interventions, 2011-12 saw REDWatch out last another intervention. When REDWatch formed in 2003 the Redfern Waterloo Partnership Project was the intervention in place. It was replaced by the RWA in early 2005. The RWA was formally wound into the new Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority at the end of 2011 and by mid June 2012 it was announced that the SMDA itself would be wound up and merged with Landcom to form Urbangrowth NSW, a body which the Minister has described as a “Landcom on Steroids”.

One consequence of the demise of the RWA was the loss of material on its website. When the site closed REDWatch made available the information from the RWA site on the REDWatch site. We needed to push the SMDA to ensure that statutory planning information on the RWA site was transferred to the SMDA or the Department of Planning site – in the process we alerted the Department of Planning to a wider problem of statutory information being lost with the change in government instrumentalities.

The RWA site’s demise meant that many of the links on the REDWatch’s site that pointed to the old RWA site became non-operational. We tried, without success, to get the SMDA to keep the site operational as an online archived site. REDWatch has ensured that we have all material also posted on our site. REDWatch holds a mirror of the RWA site at the time it closed should it be required in the future by researchers.

The REDWatch website has continued to play a central role in making available information about important events, news and developments in Redfern and Waterloo. It is very time consuming so we are looking for people who are prepared to assist in this work.

The demise of the RWA saw a number of its functions disappear. Human Service Co-ordination was one of the casualties. The maps of the area’s services that took so long for the RWA to get correct disappeared overnight, along with the Ministerial Advisory Committees and service co-ordination mechanisms like ISOG. Finding ways to get services to better integrate to support high needs people in the area is as much a challenge post RWA as it was before it. REDWatch has been doing much lobbying trying to get this issue addressed especially in response to the higher needs tenants that are being moved into public housing without effective human services support. REDWatch will continue to work on this important issue left over from the RWA era.

Heritage has been another disappointing area over the last 12 months. With the establishment of the Redfern Waterloo Heritage Task Force (RWHT) some real progress was made in getting Heritage issues addressed, however the RWHT has not met in the last 12 months and with the demise of the RWA there is no mechanism to co-ordinate heritage activity across the entire Eveleigh site. The Eveleigh Railway Workshop Heritage Interpretation Plan was initiated by the RWHT but it was finalised by the SMDA without any reference group. REDWatch is exploring suitable mechanisms to get a similar taskforce set up under another mechanism, possibly via Council. Heritage at the ATP is covered by ATP processes but is not currently linked into the broader site.

In November 2011 REDWatch applied for funding from the local Central magazine under a mechanism called Project Local. With community support through voting REDWatch received $2,500 towards some larger, well publicised events and to strengthen promotion and associated costs for our usual monthly forums and round tables. The funds allowed us to run additional well attended workshop with Prof Peter Phibbs on “Planning for Non-Planners” and a very well attended Community Forum on the SMDA proposals for the North Eveleigh site. Other forums included candidates’ forums for the Local Government elections and the Heffron by-election. This support was greatly appreciated, but it also meant extra work for the Co-ord Group which needed to plan and facilitate the increased activity.

REDWatch also has been able to submit several submissions on Government policy, based on the feedback from the community. Subject have included : -  North Eveleigh Early Works Development, SMDA Affordable Housing Policy, Australian Technology Park Conservation Management Plan, Pemulwuy Redevelopment, USyd Abercrombie St Business College and of course lots of comments on the Housing NSW Affordability Fund Preliminary Master plan amongst others.

Geoff Turnbull continued to be the public contact point for REDWatch dealing with a range of inquiries from the media, students, agencies, residents and the general public looking for information about REDWatch or issues connected to the area. One of the important areas for the spokesperson is dealing with many media inquiries, providing background briefings on issues, talking to students, doing interviews and referring media to people who should be spoken to for a story. This helps to raise the issues of concern to REDWatch but not necessarily with it always being associated with REDWatch’s name. In the last year the South Sydney Herald has provided an opportunity for Geoff to provide shorts on local issues and this has expanded the reach of some of the issues of concern to REDWatch.

REDWatch office bearers in 2011-12 were Convenor - Michael Shreenan; Secretary - Jose Perez; Spokesperson - Geoffrey Turnbull and Treasurer - Ross Smith. Together with Irene Doutney, Michael Chapman and Desley Hass they made up the REDWatch Co-ord Group. The Co-ord Group deals with the facilitation of meetings and forums and with formulating and implementing REDWatch’s response to the issues that arise. It meets monthly but is also active in email discussion through the month as required.

REDWatch has continued to take the initiative in discussions about the issues of concern to us by inviting key people to forums, meetings and roundtables on a wide variety of community issues. Below is a list of meetings REDWatch has been involved in over the period of this report.

Meetings and total attendees

  • 7 July 2011 – Council presentation on their submission on BEP2
  • 4 August 2011 – Tanya Plibersek community services and social inclusion. Why we want to meet Minister Hazzard about BEP2 and the HNSW Masterplan
  • 1 September 2011 – HNSW presentation on Preliminary Master Plan
  • 6th October 2011 – Exploring Transport the Jig Saw – 24
  • 3rd November 2011 – AGM. Wyanga and Chamber of Commerce presentations – 14  
  • 30th January 2012 – Inaugural Lift Redfern Campaign planning meeting – 28
  • 2nd February – Understanding Social Impact Assessments – 26
  • 1st March 2012 – Community Services and Facilities – 16
  • 13th March – Planning for non-planners – 48
  • 5th April 2012 – City of Sydney – Villages plan Consultation – 13  
  • 12th April 2012 – Understanding Social Mix – 45
  • 3 May – Lift Redfern Campaign review and celebration meeting – 22
  • 21st May 2012 – North Eveleigh Development Community Meeting – 130  
  • 7rd June 2012 SMDA Update
  • 5th July 2012 – Community Engagement – Beyond the Tick Box – 27
  • 2nd August 2012 – Heffron By-election meets the candidate’s forum – 35
  • 16th August 2012 – Local Government Election – meet the candidate’s forum – 45
  • 6th September 2012 – Place management – does it work? – 30 
  • 4th October 2012 – Roundtable on Community Safety

Geoff Turnbull & Michael Shreenan on behalf of the REDWatch Co-ord Group