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REDWatch Co-ordination Group Report for 2016-2017

REDWatch Co-ord Report 2016-2017

This is the year that we expected community engagement about the redevelopment of Waterloo and UrbanGrowth’s Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Studies to go to cabinet. Neither happened!

REDWatch continued to hold its monthly forums on issues pertinent to our area and while we certainly had an eye on what was useful for us to do in Waterloo we covered a broad range of issues aimed to create understanding and discussion about what was happening across Redfern, Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo (REDW).

Unlike earlier moves on public housing where REDWatch organised mass meetings and media events (such as in 2004) or were involved in setting up Groundswell to undertake capacity building and to monitor master planning (2011), this time things have been very different. The Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG) were being vocal, Groundswell agencies were being funded by LAHC to provide capacity building and LAHC were talking to groups and agencies about how they should engage with tenants about the redevelopment.

In that context, REDWatch has sought to be involved in the conversations, in influencing the processes and in documenting what is happening on our website. Our questions to LAHC led to Communities Plus formally responding to a REDWatch meeting and Sydney City Council talking about its input into the study requirements as examples. With others working in spaces REDWatch earlier occupied we have importantly been able to look for the gaps where some pressure might be useful such as in affordable housing.

One of the major areas that we have worked on and seen significant movement in the last year is around human services. Redevelopment focuses on the built environment and fails to address many of the problems for public housing – as Ross Smith used to say I have not met an anti-social building yet. What was still missing in the discussion was the area of human services. It was the focus of the RWPP and RWA interventions but while they made plans, they made little appreciable change in the way human services operated at the grass roots.

Over the last couple of months our pressure and persistence, working with Inner Sydney Voice and Counterpoint, has been rewarded with LAHC deciding to develop a human services plan to sit alongside the master plan. We have made it clear that this plan needs to deal with the existing issues facing people with complex needs currently in public housing so they will have wrap around human services support in the much higher densities proposed. We have made it plain that it is the systemic issues that need to be looked at and not just the human services problems associated with the redevelopment, as important as they are.

What is different this time is that we have been also actively engaged with Sydney Local Area Health around the health component of human service support. This has seen SLHD hold a Waterloo Health Forum in late September 2017, create a senior health linker role for Waterloo and bring a health lens to the master planning studies and process. All this has been done in discussion with REDWatch, ISV and Counterpoint.

These are major achievements by themselves but if we can manage to gain a robust human services approach to Waterloo and hopefully other public tenants out of the process, we will have again helped make a difference in our community. What influence we might have in the master planning remains to be seen but we will certainly be pushing for outcomes that work for local communities around Waterloo and not just government.

The Australian Technology Park continued to take up a lot of time this year with REDWatch sitting on the monthly Community Liaison Group looking at the CBA and associated developments on the site as well as sitting on the ATP Advisory Panel with major organisations around Eveleigh such as CarriageWorks, Sydney University, UrbanGrowth, LAHC etc. These meetings along with participation in heritage meetings have provided a basis for discussion with people about the wicked problems of Redfern Station as well as the direction of the ATP and its heritage. At UrbanGrowth’s request REDWatch made a submission about the need for an Eveleigh wide heritage mechanism to be considered by site landowners and the Heritage Council.

Of growing concern at the end of the year was to learn that the ATP sale also gave Mirvac the inside running to buy the Large Erecting Shop should Transport NSW decide to divest. The lock out of 3801 Ltd and the failure of Transport Heritage NSW to deliver on the LES as a heritage train operational base makes this a worrying possibility. This is particularly so given REDWatch’s concerns about Mirvac’s proposals for the heritage bays in the ATP Locomotive Workshop.

This year has been the first without Brian Dunnett, an ex-Eveleigh worker who was instrumental in pushing the ATP, CarriageWorks and REDWatch on Heritage issues. Thankfully, others have stepped more actively into that void and the 1917 strike commemorations, which Brian pushed, look like they have rekindled interest by the ALP and the unions. Long time REDWatch members Wendy and Guido bailed from the ATP Blacksmiths during this time, but the future of the site looks safe in the hands of a younger cohort of blacksmiths.

REDWatch has maintained a watching brief on Sydney University developments with REDWatch secretary Jenni Sams and co-spokesperson Geoff Turnbull normally attending university briefing’s about developments. Jenni along with co-spokesperson Alice Anderson have been active around issues to do with North Eveleigh and a development in Wilson Street.

This year has seen a much more active social media presence and Alexander Turnbull has helped REDWatch reach out to new people by the postering our events throughout the area when he has been able. We have continued to be involved in activities with other groups like the 2016 forum for Lord Mayor candidates and on broader networks such as events put on by the Better Planning Network which a number of REDWatch members have attended. We have also participated in briefings and consultations with the department of Planning and Environment and with the Greater Sydney Commission.

REDWatch is totally self-funded by donations of people’s money and time. While many people have ideas about what others should do there are fewer people who are prepared to give of their time to make things happen. These are the people REDWatch really values as they make what the group does happen. It was just before the last AGM that we got the tragic news of the death of Ross Smith. Ross has been sorely missed in this community over the last year and especially so in REDWatch. Given REDWatch’s origins in the ALP and the Greens, it was pleasing that Damien Minton has stepped in to continue the ALP relationship with REDWatch. In the last year, REDWatch has spoken at meetings organised by both the ALP and the Greens as well as at a number of other community events and training sessions.

As we head into the Waterloo consultation and with North Eveleigh and the Redfern block near PCYC being declared State Significant Projects it looks like there will be plenty for REDWatch to do in the coming year.

Finally, I would like to thank all those on the Co-ord group for their hard work over the last year. Some have been forced out of the area by rising rents and others have made their contribution and are stepping back. All your contributions are what has made REDWatch what it was this year and we thank you.

Geoff Turnbull on behalf of the REDWatch Co-ord Group


REDWatch Meeting Activities since July 2016:

July 7 2016 – no meeting Federal Candidates forum

August 4 2016 - General discussion

20 August - Lord Mayor Candidates forum

September 1 2016 - Local Government matters

October 6 2016 - LAHC Presents on Waterloo and Communities Plus

November 3 2016 – Who is Greater Sydney Commission and what has it got to do with us?

December 1 2016 - How are affordable housing models working overseas?

February 2 2017 - What’s Cooking? Open Mic

March 2 2017 - Health Impacts and redevelopment – what do we need to know?

April 6 2017 - And if the Government won't listen?

May 4 2017 - The Path Less Travelled - A Round Table on Commuter Affairs

June 1 2017 – Density done well: Council on SSP requirements for Waterloo

July 6 2017 - Public Housing - What is it? Where are we? How did we get here? and Where are we going?

August 3 2017 – Eveleigh Heritage Forum

September 7 2017 – Human Services Forum