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HomeNewsUrban DesignMinisters agree to Waterloo cuts

Ministers agree to Waterloo cuts

Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) defunded the Waterloo Community Development, Aboriginal Liaison and Bilingual Workers (Mandarin and Russian) in June. Local organisations, Counterpoint Community Services (CCS), Inner Sydney Voice (ISV) and REDWatch wrote to Minister Pavey (LAHC) and Minister Ward (Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) to ask for continued funding. The reply on behalf of the ministers is on the REDWatch website.

The response acknowledged and appreciated “the valuable relationships developed with the community and the meaningful contribution and support provided by the independent community workers over the last few years in Waterloo”, but said, “LAHC is not in a position to continue the community worker contracts, as the City of Sydney is the consent authority and will lead the community consultation”. LAHC will provide critical information regarding the Waterloo redevelopment where required.

The reply highlights that DCJ funds Mission Australia to deliver the Tenant Participation and Community Engagement (TPCE) program to “support social housing tenants to access information and services, connect with their local communities and participate in housing and community issues which affect their lives”.

The immediate implication is that Waterloo tenants have to get future support from Mission Australia’s TPCE workers. The TPCE Program Guidelines with DCJ State and Sydney District Requirements are on the REDWatch website. Tenants can then take up any support issues with Mission Australia, and DCJ district and state officials that mange the contract obligations.

TPCE replaced tenant support services provided locally by ISV and Counterpoint in December 2018 and DCJ moved funding that supported community gardeners until 2016 to another disadvantaged community as it only supported a small number of tenants in Waterloo.

Using the City of Sydney as cover to cease funding needs closer examination. The Waterloo Metro proponents undertook engagement when DPIE was the consent authority. LAHC does not have to stop support because the City is the consent authority.

The independent support positions were for the preparation of the masterplan. LAHC has yet to finish its master planning for the rest of the site. This and the promised Human Services Plan and Community Facilities consultations will happen without these workers.

NGOs argued the positions were needed for the life of the project, not just master planning. The Social Sustainability Study recommends crucial elements, such as community development, place making, community facilities and human service planning be “part of the procurement for the redevelopment”. This works when LAHC relocates everyone for a redevelopment like at Ivanhoe. LAHC puts future requirements into the contract so the developers pay for it during the development or in ongoing operations.

LAHC has submitted a plan for only 37 per cent of the estate’s public housing units. At procurement, the developer will be responsible for its part of the site. LAHC has said it is unlikely there would only be one developer on such a large site.

Until they were redeveloped there would be no developer-delivered benefits to deliver social sustainability for the rest of the estate and the 500 public housing properties in the adjoining conservation area.

There are major problems and gaps in leaving community development, community facilities planning and place making until procurement. They have nothing to do with the consent authority.

One breakthrough in the ministerial response was a commitment to deliver a Human Services Plan for Waterloo. It is to be led by the Housing and Property Group within the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) with support from DCJ. LAHC sits within this DPIE group.

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Geoff Turnbull handles SSH Urban Design content and is a co-spokesperson of REDWatch.

 

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