The Block in Redfern is still awaiting an upgrade almost 30 years after the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) announced redevelopment plans, with protesters and a lack of funds holding up the work.
The Block is one of many affordable housing facilities run by the AHC for disadvantaged Aboriginals in NSW. The company has owned it since 1973 and has had a plan in place since 1987 to redevelop the area and create a better living space for residents.
The $70 million plan, known as the Pemulwuy Project, includes social and affordable housing for 62 families, a gymnasium, commercial and retail space, a gallery, accommodation for 154 students and a childcare space for 60 children.
Lani Tuitavake from the AHC told The Newsroom: “The redevelopment hopes to create a positive future for the community, which has often been involved with drugs and alcohol”. The redevelopment also complements the AHC mission statement “that Aboriginal people enjoy the same standard of living as all other Australians”.
The plan has been approved by the government and has been ready to build since December 2012. But state and federal funding to undertake the work has not been secured and protesters have also set up camp on The Block as a revolt against any redevelopment. These protesters, who have camped in the area for over eight months, fear the “area will be run by commercial buildings” due to a lack of government funds.
The protesters are a part of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and make up no more than 12 in a group. When The Newsroom spoke to the protesters there were only two on-site at the time and only claimed to be “skeptical” about the project. – Jacinta Scott
Top photo of The Block’s redevelopment plan by Sharon Mridul.