'This needs to be a priority': Push for more Aboriginal housing in inner Sydney

Community groups are mounting a combined push for more social and affordable housing for Aboriginal people in inner Sydney, as a wave of development and rise in property prices scatter the area's once-thriving population.

Megan Gorrey reports for the Sydney Morning Herald

More than 20 local groups are lobbying the Berejiklian government to commit to a greater proportion of homes for Indigenous residents as it forges ahead with developments that are remaking swathes of publicly owned land in Redfern and Waterloo. The suburbs have long been the epicentre of Aboriginal politics and culture in Sydney.

"It's about the ongoing connection of Aboriginal people to place," said Warren Roberts, of the Inner Sydney Aboriginal Interagency Network. Mr Roberts is coordinator of the Redfern Waterloo Alliance of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Allies, which brings together organisations across the housing, health, legal aid and youth services sectors.

Among them are the Aboriginal Medical Service Redfern, the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women's Legal Centre, Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, Weave Youth and Community Services, Redfern Legal Centre and Shelter NSW.

The alliance has launched a campaign, backed by local MPs and the City of Sydney council, arguing 10 per cent of homes in new developments on public land in the area should be affordable housing to ease a shortage of homes for Indigenous Australians.

It also wants more public and social housing for Aboriginal people, with any community housing providers to be Aboriginal community-controlled organisations or to work in partnership with those organisations.

The group is also urging the government to set job targets to employ Aboriginal people in the construction and provision of services at new developments.

"It's not a symbol, we don't want a painting on the wall. We need tangible targets and a ministerial decision on a commitment to social and affordable housing for Aboriginal people," Mr Roberts said.

"We need a commitment as a first step to ensure our voices are heard as part of the planning laws."

Read the full story here (Sydney Morning Herald, 5 October 2020)