You are here: Home / About REDWatch / REDWatch Statements / REDWatch 2005 Statements / Submission on RWA Draft Human Services Plan / REDWatch Submission on RWA Draft Human Services Plan (DHSP)

REDWatch Submission on RWA Draft Human Services Plan (DHSP)

REDWatch wishes to make some brief comments on the DHSP. It is not our intention to go into all the areas covered the DHSP. In general terms we are supportive of the comments made in the papers by the RLC and Elizabeth Rice.

Integration and improved Government Programmes for Redfern Waterloo

REDWatch welcomes the emphasis in the DHSP of the need for significantly improving state government service delivery in Redfern Waterloo.

REDWatch also welcomes the proposed mechanisms for the integration of government services delivered in the area and the taking of responsibility by lead government departments.

Many of the measures are long overdue and can only be improved by being delivered in an integrated manner.

REDWatch however has some concerns about these aspects of the DHSP.

  1. It must be recognised that any early intervention program in a closed community requires additional funds early in its implementation and that savings are only possible in the long term. Dealing with those for whom there has not been early intervention must continue while early intervention strategies are implemented.
  2. It must also be recognised that Redfern Waterloo is not a closed community. Government policy changes are likely to increase turnover in public housing tenants bringing more high needs people into the area. Redfern Waterloo is also a hub for Aboriginal people through out the city and the state. Redfern Waterloo’s city fringe location also sees homeless and troubled people living on and moving through its streets. All these factors indicate that a successful regional early intervention program may not see all the expected savings due to the area’s connectivity to the wider community. This should be recognised at the outset.
  3. Adequate resources have to be committed by government departments to deliver on what has been agreed in the plan in a timely manner. Redfern Waterloo can not afford to have yet another announcement which is not implemented. As there is no state budget allocation, all funds will have to come from existing department allocations and this will require those departments finding the resources required from within their existing activities. If this is to work the RWA and the ISOG will have to make sure that commitments from departments are adequate to really implement these programs in a manner that will make a lasting impact and to ensure that the commitments are delivered by the departments.
  4. Given the existing commitments of government departments and the size of the task for early intervention in Redfern Waterloo, it may be necessary for the government to provide additional funds so that a department like DOCS, for example, is not forced to choose between its statutory at risk notification obligations and these new localised early intervention programs.
  5. Integration of government activities will probably not happen unless it is serviced and driven by the RWA or someone with this role servicing ISOG and human services CEOs group.
  6. As far as it is possible the activities of government departments under the HSP should be transparent and open to NGO and community scrutiny.

Redfern Waterloo can not afford another policy announcement about the great things government will do and not see the results on the ground. The RWA already has to deal with the cynicism born of earlier undelivered government announcements.

Equality in Service Access – The Employment Example

One area which is important to be emphasised in the DHSP is the importance of equal access to services for all sectors of the community and the equal supply of services to all sectors of the community.

At the moment there is significant concern among non-Aboriginal public tenants that employment programmes are being focused totally on the Aboriginal population. While Aboriginal unemployment is a major issue in its own right and needs special programmes targeted to provide employment assistance, the unemployment problem in Redfern Waterloo is the major issue for a much wider group in the community. While the Aboriginal focus may have arisen from Aboriginal services being included in stage one of the DHSP it is important that the RWA put in place arrangements to address the wider employment issues effecting the community and put in place employment and enterprise options for all the Redfern Waterloo community.

Delay in addressing such issues runs the risk of fuelling resentment in those who can not access a particular service and creating a “them and us” mentality. In the case of the Aboriginal employment example above it also runs the risk of providing fuel to any underlying racial tensions.

Integration of NGOs, One Stop Shops and Learning for the Past

REDWatch is concerned about the basis for the reorganisation of Youth services and the proposed precincts and “One Stop Shops”. While we agree that there is a need for much better integration and co-operation between services, we believe the way in which this is undertaken should be worked through with the services and service users rather than being imposed upon them. So far we have not seen a theoretical basis for the DHSP proposal and we recommend that the DHSP should be changed so as not to prescribe any particular improved integration option. The particular form of improved integration should be worked out in the context of developing services response to the needs of particular target groups.

It is vital that the RWA learn from the RWPP’s earlier experience in making changes to the service landscape in Redfern Waterloo especially the Street Team experience. It does not matter how great government think their plan is – if it is not implemented in conjunction with existing local services and have community participation and support, it is likely to meet with opposition and fail. This is especially so if initially it requires the co-operation of local services. The RWA should be careful not to repeat this mistake with their push to implement a particular view of youth service integration. Similarly, the RWA should recognise that they can also disrupt successful existing programs by trying to appropriate or “improve” them, as the RWPP did with Kid Speak. The DHSP proposals concerning the government taking over the successful Black Out Violence programme is in danger of repeating earlier mistakes. It is important to acknowledge and support successful local programs rather than try and appropriate them.

The RWA must also proceed with care in implementing common back office services and common referral procedures. Each of these have opportunities as well as risks and they must be approached in a manner that allows both the risks and opportunities to be explored by those involved and to deal with in a co-operative framework. Aboriginal concerns about sharing of information between agencies must also be addressed.

It will take time for the RWA to earn the trust of the service providers and the broader community. This will not happen if the RWA seeks to ram through changes against the experience of the local services. It is crucial that new RWA employees are aware of what has been done by their predecessors and that they do not go over the same ground unnecessarily. That the existing RWA staff did not know of a day workshop conducted six months ago by RWPP / RWA staff on “One Stop Shops” in the preparation phase for the DHSP is a major cause for concern. This workshop of local service providers should have informed the RWA’s DHSP response.

The Redfern Public School Announcement

Some people find it bewildering that the government now talks about programs to use schools as community centres after the same government closed down the local Redfern School which historically provided an important community focus and programs within the Redfern Waterloo community rather than outside it.  Many people still believe that had the Redfern School not been closed that the civil unrest in February 2004 would not have happened.

Announcing the school sale in the middle of the DHSP consultation raised a number of important issues:

  1. The key elements contained in the school sale announcement were not covered in the DHSP and aspects of the announcement were in direct conflict with what was proposed, especially the introduction of new services. To us this indicates that the human services functions of the RWA and its development corporation aspects have not been incorporated within a broad strategic plan for the area. It is vital that the development functions of the RWA and the Human Service functions operate within a long term strategic and integrated framework.
  2. The sale of the school does not appear to have been based on any demographic analysis of the future school needs of the area with an increased population and the increase in children under the age of two already becoming apparent in the area.
  3. The sale of the school permanently disposes of scarce inner city publicly owned land prior to a long term plan for the area being established. Should the government need land to deliver services in the area in the future it will need to purchase land at a significantly increased cost.
  4. The manner of the school sale had implications for both existing human service providers based there and for the future of human services to be delivered in the area and should have been the subject of community consultation and consideration under the DHSP.

One significant omission from the DHSP in terms of early intervention is the importance of appropriate housing. It is very difficult to provide the early intervention services if the “client” does not have appropriate ongoing housing.

This is another area where the human services side of the RWA needs to be better integrated with the development / build environment aspects of the Redfern Waterloo Plan. Unless the Redfern Waterloo Plan provides for the range of housing options necessary to meet the housing needs of those in the community it will be difficult to see how early intervention will be successfully applied to those who do not have appropriate housing.

Process for Change

Process does matter. While the RWA DHSP sets out priorities, the RWA has to recognise that how it goes about achieving these priorities will have an equally crucial impact on the outcome.

REDWatch has previously provided some suggestions on for Community Participation Principles and also Unhealthy and Healthy Community Indicators which we have attached. As pointed out in Elizabeth Rice’s submission other elements of the The REDWatch Planning Framework for the Redfern-Waterloo Plan are also applicable to the DHSP as well as the broader Redfern Waterloo Plan. For ease of reference these are attached and we commend them to you for the DHSP.

Community participation

There were two community meetings at the beginning of the preparation of the DHSP. The community was shut out of most of the rest of the discussion including the meeting about One Stop Shops. The community meetings made some strong statements on community participation in human service delivery. While the facilitator’s report was not circulated to participants we have reproduced the relevant section from the second e-news about this meeting as it provides some indication of the concerns of those at the consultation:

In summary, the workshop participants expressed a desire for:

·                     greater community involvement in planning and decision-making about local services

·                     increased accountability and reporting to the community from all human services, government and non-government

·                     equity of access to services

·                     improved coordination among the local services

·                     politicians and senior managers with responsibility for services experiencing local issues by coming to Redfern-Waterloo

·                     community meetings to be widely promoted (through letter drops and word-of-mouth) and held in accessible venues (such as schools).

These identified community concerns do not appear to be reflected in the DHSP. Many of the active community members are / have been involved in local community directed services and see community involvement as being essential in getting services that meet the community needs.

The final point from the e-news referenced above has been addressed in part by the RWA “information” meetings about the DHSP, but the participants in the earlier community meetings had a much more participatory model in mind than just being told about what the government thought and being encouraged to go away and put in a written submission.

The Prospectus and RWA Trust Proposal

REDWatch is concerned about the DHSP proposals for a Trust administered by the RWA and believes that the details of this proposal should be explored further before being adopted. In particular the RWA should take advice from the ICAC regarding corruption proofing any trust that is established.

REDWatch is concerned that the establishment of a Trust may:

  1. put the government in direct competition with existing local services for private funding support. There are already substantial private donations to NGOs in the area and government completion for donations to these services may lessen NGO’s private income and make them more dependent on government funding and hence government direction. Some will see this as the intent in the RWA proposal.
  2. lead to private funding replacing government funding over time and resulting in no net increase in resources being bought into the area. The proposals in the DHSP already contain proposals for private funding of areas like basic numeracy & literacy which most consider core government responsibilities.
  3. distort the project priorities offered in the prospectus from what the community most needs (and what the government is not suppling) to that which the private sector is prepared to fund (ie things that look good in a shareholders annual report rather than possibly less ‘sexy’ more important community needs).
  4. lead to concerns that developers looking for approval for developments in the RWA administered area, or in the wider state controlled by the same minister, may invest in the fund with a view to gaining approval for their developments.
  5. prevent good local NGO or community proposals from being included in the prospectus in favour of projects favoured by the RWA and government priorities.

By definition any trust needs to be completely independent and disassociated from the RWA, otherwise it gives rise to a conflict of interest with the RWA being the body approving developments while at the same time receiving donations from potential developers. On the other hand the independent trustees also reduce the opportunity for community input and potentially distances the trust from the community’s view of what is needed within their community. Trustees would need to be acceptable to both the community and the RWA and this could be difficult to achieve.

Given all these issues we believe that it is unwise for this proposal to be pushed through in this part of the DHSP and that more community consultation and anti corruption advice is required before it is pursued.

Conclusion and Suggestion on Future HSP Consultations

As mentioned at the beginning of this submission this is not an extensive response to the DHSP however given the shortness of the time frame and our limited resources as a community group we can only highlight our major concerns.

We are strongly of the view that all future consultations on the HSP and other parts of the Redfern Waterloo Plan should include:

  1. Two months for community consideration – many community organisation only meet once a month and there is insufficient time to prepare reactions and then for submissions to be discussed adequately by the larger group
  2. That the consultation should include not only information sessions but also facilitated workshops which bring together people with a common concern and experience in a sector / cluster / range of services to discuss the proposals and their reactions to it
  3. Where groups have been involved in meetings preparing the plan (as was the case with cluster groups this time) these groups should be reconvened and given the opportunity to discuss in depth their reaction to the proposals and to bring their combined experience to bear on the proposal with a view to addressing any areas of concern.

We look forward to more participatory processes in the development of future RWA and human service proposals as the RWA develops a corporate memory by learning from this “consultation”.

We hope that these brief suggestions will be seriously considered by the RWA and the MACHS.

Geoffrey Turnbull
On behalf of REDWatch
c/- PO Box 1567,
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Ph Wk: (02) 9318 0824        email:

REDWatch is a residents and friends group covering Redfern Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo (the same area covered by the Redfern Waterloo Authority). REDWatch monitors the activities of the RWA and other government bodies and seeks to ensure community involvement in all decisions made about the area.

REDWatch meets at 2pm on the 4th Sunday of the month at the Factory Community Centre.
More information about REDWatch and the issues of concern to us can be found at:

Documents attached to the Submission were:
Submission on RW Plan Community Participation Principles
The submission included some Community Participation Principles which REDWatch wished to see addopted by the RWA in light of the criticism that had been leveled against the government's poor track record of consultation in Redfern - Waterloo.
Submission on RW Plan Unhealthy and Healthy Community Indicators
In preparing the Community Participation Principles REDWatch’s attention was drawn to a list of Unhealthy and Healthy community indicators from Building Healthy Communities. REDWatch felt these indicators were also important in building a health community in Redfern - Waterloo. This list was included in our submission and is contained in the pdf file on this page.
Submission on RW Plan The REDWatch Planning Framework for the Redfern-Waterloo Plan
This document contain REDWatch’s ideas on a planning framework for Redfern-Waterloo. This framework is in four parts: A) “The Plan in Outline”, which provides a broad overview of how the Redfern-Waterloo Plan could be developed, implemented and reviewed; B) A summary of the steps involved in developing, implementing and reviewing the Redfern - Waterloo Plan; C) suggestions for specific ground rules for developing, implementing and reviewing the Redfern - Waterloo Plan and; D) more detailed explanations of why each of the ground rules is needed.