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08 September 2005

AHC Makes Open Reply to Minister Sartor / Telephone Polling – Who is asking questions about the Block and Redfern Oval? / New Police LAC Commander Catherine Burn Interview / Redfern Gym Rescue Festival – 24th September 2005 Eveleigh Street Redfern / Lord Mayor’s Community Forums / Open letter from Michael Mundine to Frank Sartor Minister for Redfern Waterloo

In this issue

AHC Makes Open Reply to Minister Sartor

Telephone Polling – Who is asking questions about the Block and Redfern Oval?

New Police LAC Commander Catherine Burn Interview

Redfern Gym Rescue Festival – 24th September 2005 Eveleigh Street Redfern

Lord Mayor’s Community Forums

At the foot of the Update

Open letter from Michael Mundine to Frank Sartor Minister for Redfern Waterloo


AHC Makes Open Reply to Minister Sartor

The Aboriginal Housing Company has responded to Minister Frank Sartor’s open letter in the recent RWA Update. The abridged reply on page 7 of the September 7 2005 issue of the Sydney Central Courier will not get the same audience as the Minister’s front page letter distributed to every home in Redfern Waterloo but it at least puts the AHC’s reply on the public record and many will see it. In the interest of ensuring that as many people as possible are aware of the AHC’s reply we have put out this Update and reproduced the reply at the foot of this update.

A companion article in the Courier entitled “Is Sartor taking the Micky?” also reported on the Minister’s Open Letter last week. The full text of the Minister’s letter can be seen at (155 Kb pdf file of the RWA Update)

Telephone Polling – Who is asking questions about the Block and Redfern Oval?

Last evening we received a report that a Redfern Waterloo resident had received a call from a telephone polling company asking for their opinion on a number of questions about The Block (such as should 62 houses be built there?) and also asking if Souths should be allowed to own Redfern Oval? The respondent thought that the call was made on behalf of the RWA but Robert Domm the RWA CEO has this morning advised that: “The RWA has neither commissioned any polling nor undertaken any itself.”

So if the questions are not being asked on behalf of the RWA who are they being asked on behalf of? If you have had a call and can provide any information about the polling company making the calls, who they say they are making the calls for, what information they are providing respondents and what questions are being asked, please let us know.

Given that the phone polling follows close on the heels of the distribution of the RWA’s Update which put their position on these two issues one would expect that like push polling, the respondent’s views will be influenced by the quality of the information available to them. Poll results from such research would probably be considered tainted should they be rolled out to support the RWA’s position on either The Block or the oval further down the track.

New Police LAC Commander Catherine Burn Interview

The September 7 2005 issue of the Sydney Central Courier also carried an article about Catherine Burn’s appointment to Redfern which we mentioned last week. Of particular interest in the article was that Superintendent Burn worked as the Police Liaison Officer to last year’s Social Issues Inquiry into issues relating to Redfern Waterloo. This experience has hopefully provided her with a good understanding of some of the issues facing Redfern Waterloo and of some of the Inquiry’s concerns on what needs to happen to address some of the issues raised. The article can be seen at .

Redfern Gym Rescue Festival – 24th September 2005 Eveleigh Street Redfern

The Tony Mundine Gym in Redfern produces world-class boxers. Fighters of all backgrounds train there, and according to the Federal Government, that's the problem. Mick Mundine, CEO of the gym, said "The reasons why funding from the Federal Government stopped is because a lot of different nationalities train here, and not enough Aboriginals. They said, the gym isn't doing the thing it's supposed to be doing - but we should all be able to train here together".

To save the Mundine's Gym a refurbishment festival is taking place on September 24th. One thousand people are expected to attend, including a number of high profile athletes. Anthony Mundine, a former world champion, said, "I'll do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't close". He is not alone. Already sponsors have come out in support of the gym, either through contributing to the $60,000 target for fundraising or by providing materials for the renovations.

Alex Tui, who manages the gym, believes the famous Redfern landmark will survive because it has the support of local residents and businesses. "People respect the gym. It's almost like a church in the community". In the gym, Tui said, you'll not only find people who aspire to be world champions but you'll also see those who are fighting to get their lives back on track.

Boxers who train at Mundine's Gym fear its closure will negatively affect youth from South Sydney. Anthony Mundine said, "The Gym has provided a lot for the youngsters around the area. It will be the cornerstone for future champions. A sweaty gym like this is where real champions want to train".

Suat Sarimsakliosu, a boxer with a big future in the sport, agreed. "You've got some of the best trainers around and a lot of professional boxers here. If they can do it, you can do it".

The Gym Rescue festival is being organized by the Elouera – Tony Mundine Gym, the Aboriginal Housing Company and Hillsong Emerge. More information and downloadable sponsorship package can be found at

Lord Mayor’s Community Forums

If you are unable to make the 6pm Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington Community Forum on Thursday 15th September at Redfern Town Hall there are a couple of other alternatives available. The Forum for Centennial and Moore Parks will also cater to East Redfern at 6pm at SCEGGS, Forbes Street Darlinghurst on Thursday 22 September. On the western side the Newtown, Darlington, Chippendale, Camperdown Community Forum will be held at 6pm on Monday 26 September at the Wentworth Building, level 4, University Union, City Road, University of Sydney. For further information contact Julie Grimson, City of Sydney’s Community Relations Manager on 9265 9086.

Open letter from Michael Mundine to Frank Sartor Minister for Redfern Waterloo

Minister Frank Sartor,

What I find most disturbing in your open letter to me in the Redfern Waterloo Authority August 2005 newsletter, is that you have grossly misrepresented the Pemulwuy Project and spread fear that the Block could become a ghetto again. The commercial developments that you have suggested should be on the Block are features already present in our master plan.

Facts about the Pemulwuy Project:

  • Originally there were over 102 homes owned by the AHC (now demolished) on and around the Block. The Pemulwuy Project will replace only 62.
  • The suggestion that 19 houses is a sustainable number for the Block is wrong. There are 19 houses on the Block now and this was not enough to stop last year's riot.
  • Reducing the number of houses proposed by the Pemulwuy Project will seriously compromise the community's ability to respond to crime and anti-social behaviour. The area requires a critical mass of people to ensure it remains safe.
  • The AHC has won an international award for crime prevention and community safety strategies.
  • The Pemulwuy Project is driven by an award winning Social Plan and is not an architectural response.
  • The Pemulwuy Project is not about high-dependency housing. Two thirds of the proposed housing will be available for homeownership and only as few as 20 homes will be available for low income rental.
  • The Pemulwuy Project includes an Indigenous business college, a retail/office centre, a student hostel, a museum, a culture centre, Aboriginal markets and a fitness centre.
  • The AHC has engaged independent professional advisors to oversee the Pemulwuy' Project, chaired by the Hon Tom Uren, AO.
  • The AHC has worked in partnership with the NSW Premier's department for over three years.
  • The AHC has never asked for funding from the NSDW Government for the Pemulwuy Project, and is exploring a range of other funding options.

I can say with a high degree of confidence that the Block will never become a ghetto again. The AHC, with crime prevention experts and urban planners, has developed strategies to avoid a high dependency situation from re-occurring.

The Pemulwuy Project promises great benefits:

  • The Block is a modern sacred site for Aboriginal people, its renewal will result in greater cultural pride and self respect.
  • Safer environment for children in a low crime, drug-free neighbourhood.
  • Greater opportunities for Aboriginal education and employment.
  • Opportunities for Aboriginal enterprise by making Redfern a cultural tourism precinct.
  • Unprecedented affordable home ownership in the inner-city for Aboriginal families.
  • Practical reconciliation not welfare handouts.
  • Self-determination in action.

Your letter goes on to urge me to ignore "consultants and nay-sayers. As CEO it is my responsibility to seek independent advice from a range of sources. The Board of the Aboriginal Housing Company and the members of the organisation have debated all the options. You may not like the decision but the AHC members unanimously chose to reject your amendments to the Project, on the grounds that the changes would seriously compromise the future social sustainability of the community. Despite your attempts to blame me for delays, I will continue to fight for the rights of my people to have a future in Redfern.

The vision for the Block is already there, the hard work has already been done, all you have to do now Minister is open your heart and mind to the wonderful future we can achieve for Redfern.


Michael Mundine Snr

Chief Executive Officer
Aboriginal Housing Company,

Editor's note: This is an abridged version of the original letter sent for publication. (Page 7 September 7 2005 issue of the Sydney Central Courier)