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HomeNewsCan the Waterloo South People and Place Plan deliver?

Can the Waterloo South People and Place Plan deliver?

Homes NSW Portfolio (formerly LAHC) has placed its Draft People and Place Plan on its Waterloo South site for comment until the end of May. The plan’s 76 actions reflect earlier planning controls, what LAHC has asked of developers, consultant’s reports and some input on human service supports and relocations. It also covers place making and connecting to country.

The actions are grouped under seven pillars: (1) working together; (2) working with social housing residents; (3) working with the Aboriginal community; (4) supporting health and wellbeing; (5) accessing quality education, learning and jobs; (6) feeling safe and welcome; and (7) being green and clean. Each indicates if it applies to delivery or the ongoing operation and lists a lead and supports to deliver the action.

Tenants and agencies are concerned the draft plan does not deal with all the people issues the redevelopment raises. It is not clear what some actions cover, how leads and supports will deliver them, how service participation will be financed, and which group(s) of tenants and parts of Homes NSW are referred to in the plan. Tenants and agencies are encouraged to read and comment on the plan before it is locked in.

The draft plan is welcome as a statement of what Homes NSW (HNSW) wants to happen. It allows the community and agencies to assess the adequacy of the actions to deliver and to raise what might be missing.

At a REDWatch meeting on May 2 to hear from HNSW and to consider the plan, concerns were raised about the adequacy of the plan to address the people problems associated with the redevelopment. The actions proposed are about Waterloo South and it is not clear what is in the plan for those outside this area. These tenants will also be impacted by friends moving and associated social dislocation or those having to bear years of construction noise and disruption.

The HNSW label is used for both the old LAHC and the old DCJ Housing. This makes it difficult to know what part of HNSW is being referenced. Similarly, the document doesn’t distinguish between different groups of tenants, it simply refers to everyone as “tenants”. But there will be different arrangements for HNSW (old DCJ) tenants, community housing provider (CHP) tenants and affordable housing tenants. HNSW expect CHPs to take responsibility for their own tenant participation and support. So DCJ tenants moving into CHPs will no longer be part of the NAB or serviced by Mission Australia workers. It is not clear if there will continue to be an overarching tenant mechanism that brings tenants together around common community issues when tenancy management and maintenance will be the responsibility of different organisations.

The plan expects that “agencies” and “service providers” will support the implementation of many of the actions, but there is no indication of how this will be funded. For example, service providers who are expected to provide activities after hours and on weekends as part of the activation action will need to have their costs covered from somewhere. Agencies funded by DCJ for Targeted Early Intervention, such as community centres, are already under pressure for the services they supply to public housing tenants who are not directly dealing with young children. While the social housing numbers for these services may go down as CHPs become responsible for wrap around services for their own tenants, the overall population in Waterloo South will increase fourfold with no indication of how services will receive more funding to handle that workload.

It is also not clear how this plan interacts with the Waterloo Human Service Collaborative’s Plan. That plan is about dealing with the current human service issues facing tenants and agencies. The human services part of People and Place is supposed to deal with the extra problems that come from the redevelopment happening on top of what is currently here. From the point that people are moved into community housing the new CHP becomes part of the local human services network and needs to be part of the Collaborative, bringing their experience and skills to the ongoing implementation of that plan.

One area of notable omission in the plan from previous discussions is a commitment to a “Health One” or similar facility being delivered on the site to improve health services. There is mention of the need for bulk billing doctors which the plan says it expects Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) to lead which is not really their area.

The initial context parts of the plan also seem government sanitised. Slum clearance to build the current estate gets mentioned, but not the Green Bans that stopped it. Not mentioned either are the over 500 public housing units in the Waterloo Conservation area that resulted from those bans, which are outside the “estate” defined for the redevelopment. The formation of the Aboriginal Controlled Organisations is missed as is the areas gentrification that sees the mob associated with the area priced out of living here. Providing more Aboriginal social and affordable housing in the area is to address that problem and to keep an Aboriginal community here. Waterloo wide statistics in the report hide the characteristics of the disadvantage within the public housing estate. A profile of Waterloo South is usefully supplied. It indicates a large proportion (could be up to 45 per cent) of Aboriginal people in Waterloo live in Waterloo South.

These are some of the concerns that have been raised about the draft plan. If this plan is to give the community confidence that the people issues have been fully understood and factored into the redevelopment then this plan needs community feedback over May to ensure HNSW commit to the best possible plan for the community.

You can find the Draft People and Place Plan and the consultant’s reports on Connecting to Country and a Place Framework on LAHC’s Waterloo website. On the REDWatch website you will find the discussion questions used for the REDWatch meeting on the People and Place Plan and other commentary on the plan as it emerges over the next month.

Geoff Turnbull is the Spokesperson for REDWatch.


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