Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Aboriginal Housing Company dispute

> to my understanding the article below has some errors of fact concerning the pemulwuy project history at the block at redfern and i shall endeavour to correct those errors. this post is relative to the redfern aboriginal tent embassy only. >
> my disclaimer is that whilst an avid supporter of the embassy and its intent to obtain low cost housing for aboriginal elders and families the following words are mine and mine alone and have absolutely no direct input from aunt jenny munro, the grandmothers and/or the other supporters at the embassy. >
> the authors refer several times to the pemulwuy project and neglect to advise that that project is on the scrap-heap. the original project, when made known to the community back in 2007, was well as it included 62 mixed accommodation units. the 2 units were to allow the creation of an artist-in-residence concept for an aboriginal artist and a story-teller. richard green was mooted to be favoured with this arrangement for both to work for the continuation of our culture. also included were to be 3 or 4 shops to be managed by aborigines involving our arts, crafts and real history to be available. also to be erected was to be an aboriginal hostel allowing cheap and safe accommodation for our people travelling to sydney for whatever reason. further, other aboriginal buildings were also to be built within the block complex. i understand that the redfern gym was to be refurbished. that was basically to be the pemulwuy project. >
> what the ceo of the aboriginal housing company, mick mundine, is now presenting is not the original project. what is being argued for now is the following project that is based on money-making structures and without any aboriginal community input. >
> the project, to my understanding, now includes the following construction and required use. the gym will be refurbished and strengthened to allow it to be erected a multi-story collection of 3 and 4 bedroom units on top of the gym that are listed for sale to the highest bidder. this was most definitely not in the plans of the original project. these units are expected to sell for some $250 000 or more. the height of this building is not known but whatever, the money involved will be in the millions. will low-cost housing be then built on the block itself? i very much doubt it. >
> but there is more. the accommodation for the aboriginal travellers has now been scrapped and the building will now become student accommodation from sydney university. the shops are also now to go to the highest bidder. as if these money-making concerns are not enough there are also plans to have a car-park. perhaps on the open space of the block itself. mick has explored this area previously. >
> this is not pemulwuy! this is mammon! a complete denigration of what was to be the aboriginal dream. mickey’s greed has killed it off. and yet neither the nsw minister for aboriginal affairs, victor dominello, has shown no interest to attempt to at least sort out the many governance problems at the ahc and also the redfern ams. the overseeing authority, oric, also has no interest in attempting to correct the many governance issues in both organisations. >
> the ridiculous argument from the ahc, and one avidly supported by the redfern police and the nsw government who do not want an aboriginal enclave at redfern, is based on a situation that can be easily policed. of course we do not want a return to the days of the crime-ridden block but, in my opinion, this can be easily policed. i am quite sure that the redfern police are quite aware of the presence of the redfern/waterloo areas drug-dealers and their location. of course the 62 accommodations must go to legitimate tenants and not drug-dealers. whether the block becomes as it was in the past is down to the management of the ahc, the tenants and the redfern police. the conditions now are far different to the circumstances during the 80’s and 90’s. the drug-dealers are more likely to buy the more expensive accommodation than to live in the low-cost enclave. >
> the bottom-line is that neither the ahc, the nsw government nor the redfern police want aboriginal people living at the block. for one the land is far too valuable and any aboriginal accommodation will, as mick once told gail hickey and i, such an enclave will only lower the redfern land rates thus lowering the value of other accommodation in the area. >
> there is to be a private and secret meeting on friday and any action to evict will occur only after that meeting. i believe, however that both legal teams need to report back to the court and maybe that will not happen until monday. when the evictions may occur is, at the moment, a moveable feast indeed. possibly friday, the weekend or some time next week. when it comes, it will come. support for the tent embassy goes without saying. >
> the block must be saved for its original intentions, low-cost housing for aboriginal people. that reality must not be lost, it is just too important to our rightful place within the redfern community. mick’s dash for cash must be stopped at all costs. yes, the land belongs to the ahc but the ahc is the aboriginal community and not mick mundine. he is an employee of the aboriginal community, not the land owner. >
> where is the nsw government? where is oric? where is justice for the future tenants of the block? >
> fkj
> ray jackson
> president
> indigenous social justice association
> prix des droits de l’homme de la republique francaise 2013 > (french human rights medal 2013)
> 1303/200 pitt street, waterloo. 2017
> 61 2 9318 0947
> 0450 651 063
> we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people >
> 24 Feb 2015 – 5:44pm
> Explainer: Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Aboriginal Housing Company dispute >
> The Redfern Aboriginal tent embassy. (AAP)
> The Aboriginal Housing Company’s plan to develop retail space and affordable housing on ‘The
> Block,’ in Sydney, has been opposed by members of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy. NITV > takes a look at the history of the dispute.
> By
> Andrea Booth, Malarndirri McCarthy
> Source:
> NITV News
> 24 Feb 2015
> “The Block” is known as the heartland of the Aboriginal struggle in the city of Sydney. >
> The land, located in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, has become a symbol for the movement to > protect and preserve the cultural ways of Aboriginal people. >
> The Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), incorporated in 1973, is passionate about how it wants
> to define the future for The Block, through the Pemulwuy Project – which it planned to roll out from > Monday.
> Members of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy say they’re not going anywhere despite being > ordered to leave on Monday.
> The first stage of the project incorporates retail and office-space development. The second stage
> of the development is to build affordable housing for 62 families and a childcare space for 60 > children.
> But in the past nine months a group of men and women established the Redfern Aboriginal Tent
> Embassy, determined to resist any development that they believe could disempower the > vulnerable, such as the Pemulwuy Project’s commercial development. >
> The protesters are concerned that the commercial development may take priority and that > affordable housing may not be built.
> “Our community have been concerned for a very long time about the development plans and how
> Micky [AHC CEO Michael Mundine] is running this Pemulwuy Project,” Aunty Jenny Munroe, a
> founding member of the Aboriginal Housing Company who is now one of the Tent Embassy > protesters, told NITV News.
> “[The Block is] so important to all of us. It’s a part of us, you know, our hearts are here. It’s sacred
> land, a lot of births here, a lot of deaths,” embassy member Aunty Debbie Bell added. >
> “Our community have been concerned for a very long time about the development plans and > how Micky [AHC CEO Michael Mundine] is running this Pemulwuy Project.” >
> Lorna Munroe, another Tent Embassy member, says The Block is one of the key centres for
> black empowerment in the country. “This is the birthplace of black power and land rights and
> self-determination as we know it,” she says. “You get rid of the Aboriginal faces here, you get rid > of the Aboriginal faces everywhere.”
> But the AHC issued an eviction notice last Friday to members of the Redfern Aboriginal Tent > Embassy on The Block.
> The AHC said in a press statement that the Tent Embassy protesters were on AHC-owned land
> and that it was working to “protect The Block” to ensure it remained Aboriginal and Torres Strait > Islander-owned and controlled.
> The AHC website said that Aboriginal people were at risk of losing their land to the NSW
> government if crime and drugs were allowed to thrive in the area, which would give the
> government reason to justify its “position on forcible acquisition of ‘The Block’.” >
> In 2004, the NSW government created an urban development corporation in Sydney known as
> the Redfern-Waterloo Authority to address the social problems in the Redfern- Waterloo area. A
> combination of railway workshops, housing development, 12 percent of Redfern’s households
> receiving less than $200 per week, and drug dealers living at The Block, led to it acquiring a low > socio-economic status in early 2000s.
> Later in 2004, the state government passed the Redfern-Waterloo Authority Act to set up the
> Redfern-Waterloo Authority (RWA). The RWA was set up to manage urban development > covering built environment and human services.
> The AHC, in an effort to ensure ownership of traditional land, formed the Indigenous-controlled
> Pemulwuy Project to address the issues the government said concerned it. The Pemulwuy
> Project Concept Plan was lodged in 2007 to the Department of Planning NSW and by 2009 was > granted approval.
> In August 2005, Minister for Planning Frank Sartor expressed in an open letter to Mundine
> disagreement of the AHC’s development plans, “We disagree on your development plans > because the Government believes it will repeat the problems of the past. >
> “Six months ago I proposed a joint taskforce of Government and AHC representatives, to come
> up with a shared vision for The Block…You rejected this taskforce, and since you have been > boycotting all discussions with Government.”
> Mr Mundine says he is still concerned the Redfern-Waterloo Authority would transfer ownership of
> The Block from Australia’s First Peoples to the NSW Government. “We do now need to be able to
> get on with the Pemulwuy Project so that we can ensure an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander > controlled future,” the AHC’s Friday media release said.
> “Six months ago I proposed a joint taskforce of Government and AHC representatives, to come
> up with a shared vision for The Block…You rejected this taskforce, and since you have been > boycotting all discussions with Government.”
> The 2004 Redfern-Waterloo Act was repealed in 2012 and the Sydney Metropolitan Development
> Authority (SMDA), established in 2010, assumed its functions. The SDMA became known as the
> Urban Growth NSW Development Corporation (UGDC) in 2013. The UGDC told NITV News on
> Tuesday that it had neither “any authority or control over The Block” and it understood that it was > the Aboriginal Housing Company that did.
> In the eviction notice, the AHC says it is willing to meet with the protesters: “The AHC reiterates its
> position that it is prepared to meet with you to discuss any concerns which you may have,” it read. >
> The question of when the Pemulwuy Project will begin remains unanswered. Mundine cancelled
> today’s planned meeting between the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Aboriginal members
> of the AHC to address their respective concerns, citing media presence as the reason. >
> – Additional reporting by Tara Callinan
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