This is an overview of the major government, non-government and community organisations and projects around the Waterloo master planning prepared by Geoff Turnbull.
Who’s Who on the Government side of Waterloo
Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) is the Waterloo Estate landowner. It is part of Family and Community services (FACS) and it is leading communications and engagement for the master planning process. It has engaged UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation (UGDC) to prepare the master plan for the estate. FACS will also lead the redevelopment of the estate. LAHC operates the Waterloo Connect Office for the redevelopment. It is near the IGA in the middle of the Waterloo estate and is the official contact point for questions about the redevelopment.
Communities Plus (C+) is a special part of LAHC that is responsible for the redevelopment of public housing estates. It is their name you see on printed material and it has a Waterloo page on its website where material about the Waterloo redevelopment is posted. This this article was produced a Redfern page has also been set up.
FACS Housing is the department that administers the public housing for LAHC – this is who you talk to when you go to your local housing office.
UrbanGrowth Development Corporation (UGDC) is undertaking the master planning which covers the Waterloo estate and the Waterloo metro quarter, which is the area above and around the new Metro station. UGDC will lead redevelopment of the metro quarter. It is coordinating consultants and engagement with government agencies to inform preparation of the master plan. It was responsible for the recent work associated with the Central to Eveleigh Urban Transformation Strategy and is the continuation of the old RWA / SMDA.
Sydney Metro is building the new Waterloo Metro station underground and is handling community engagement about the Metro line and the construction works for the Metro station. It is working with UGDC to realise development opportunities above and around the station.
Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) is responsible for health issues in Waterloo and has agreed to work with local agencies to do work on health impact assessments of Waterloo, a two day health forum and place a health link worker into Waterloo to help agencies and tenants navigate the health system.
City of Sydney Council is the local government for the area but as the Estate is a State Significant Precinct, the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and the Minister for Planning are responsible for deciding what happens. Council has an agreement with DPE that meant it was involved in setting the study requirements. Council also sits on the Project Review Panel to assess the master plan proposal before it goes to the Minister.
Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) is responsible for managing the statutory assessment process with support from the City of Sydney. It will exhibit the master plan and will call for public submissions and make recommendations to help the Minister for Planning make a decision about whether to approve the master plan.
KJA (Kathy Jones and Associates) is the community engagement consultants appointed by LAHC to implement a community engagement programme to talk to the community about what they think and then to feed this information into the master plan.
Other Consultants – there is a list of consultants working on the project and the studies they are undertaking at www.communitiesplus.com.au/major-sites/waterloo.
Who’s Who on the Community side of Waterloo
The Waterloo Neighbourhood Advisory Board (NAB) is made up of 11 precincts across Waterloo and each precinct has capacity for two elected representatives. The NABs were formed in the mid-1990s as a mechanism for tenants, not only to put a common voice to FACS and LAHC, but also to deal with the wide range of other bodies such as police, council and service providers that tenants need to deal with. Waterloo NAB meets every two months with LAHC about housing standards matters and on alternate months a co-ordination group meets to deal with material from working groups. Working groups include the Redfern & Waterloo NAB Events Group, the Waterloo Wellbeing and Safety Action Group, and the Waterloo Redevelopment Group.
- The Waterloo NAB Waterloo Redevelopment Group (WRG) is independently chaired and meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 2pm – 3.30pm. It includes NAB reps, representatives from local resident groups and service providers as well as interested public and private residents. NAB representatives will also meet independently to deal with tenant only issues. The WRG was set up by the NAB to get everyone around the table to guide the communication and engagement activities run by LAHC throughout the life of the redevelopment project. Kira Osborne, the independent community development worker for the Waterloo Redevelopment, is its Secretary.
The Groundswell Redfern Waterloo Agencies are a coalition of non-government agencies (NGOs) listening to, working with, and assisting local residents to understand what the government plans for Waterloo and to have their say about what happens in their neighbourhood. Initiated during the 2011 master plan by REDWatch with NGOs, Groundswell also operates the Groundswell Redfern Waterloo Facebook page and the morning teas at 10.30pm on the last Friday of the month at The Factory. Since early 2016, the coalition agencies have met monthly to push for, and guide, independent community capacity building and try to hold the redevelopment process accountable. Groundswell’s successes include securing funding from FACS to NGOs for community capacity building and community development positions during the master planning (see Redevelopment Support Projects). The positions operate independently of LAHC, with NGOs employing the workers, while their work is guided by the Groundswell agencies. Groundswell agencies have also been working with academics and other agencies to support tenants and deliver the best possible outcomes. The Groundswell agencies and their interests are:
- Counterpoint Community Services is responsible for providing a wide range of services and facilitates working with and for Waterloo and Redfern tenants. This includes The Factory Community Centre in Waterloo, Poets Corner pre-school In Redfern and Counterpoint Multicultural Services (previously South Sydney Community Aid) in Alexandria. You can find out more on their website and facebook page.
– From The Factory, Laura Kelly’s Community Development role supports local community groups, community leaders, events and projects around both estates. The Factory is also home to Kira Osborne, the new Community Development Officer who offers independent support to the Waterloo community during the master planning (see Redevelopment Support Projects).
– From Alexandria Town Hall, Counterpoint Multicultural is the multicultural community centre servicing the City of Sydney’s South area with special focus on the Redfern and Waterloo estates. It is supporting the CALD communities during the master plan discussion with specialist language and cultural expertise for Russian and Mandarin speakers through bilingual educators Mila Seredenko and Denise Fung.
- Inner Sydney Voice (ISV) is a regional NGO peak running a number of support projects including: the Central Sydney North Tenants Participation Resource Service (David White handles elections, training and support for the Waterloo NAB); Eastern Sydney Aged and Disability Sector Support and Development Project (Ross Bennett); a regional human services Information and Community Development Project (Charmaine Jones); and ISV Magazine. For the Waterloo redevelopment, ISV runs the community capacity building project (Thomas Chailloux) to help residents have a voice in the discussions – see Redevelopment Support Projects. ISV is also seeking further funding to support residents, supply residents with independent analysis of the consultants reports and for independent expert advice during the master planing process. For more information see ISV’s website or facebook page.
- Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) will likely receive funding from City of Sydney to assist people facing relocation when this happens. It has experience in doing this in Millers Point. Relocations continue to be pushed back as the master plan process slips. RLC provides tenancy legal support to public tenants and will provide training on tenancy issues in the capacity building. For more information see RLC’s website or Facebook page.
- Shelter NSW and the Tenants’ Union of NSW are state-wide peaks so are not closely involved on the ground in Waterloo but have immense experience in policy and bring to the table knowledge of what has and is happening in other redevelopments. They are working on a compact with the state government to guide public housing redevelopment (see A Compact for Renewal Projects) . They are also involved in the community capacity building. For information on Shelter NSW see their website or Facebook page. For information on the Tenants’ Union of NSW see their website and Facebook page as well as their blogs – The Brown Couch and Clearing House.
Resident Groups – In the non-agency space there are two main local resident groups: REDWatch (REDW – Redfern Eveleigh Darlington and Waterloo) and the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG). The Alexandria Residents Action Group (ARAG) borders the new Metro Station to the West.
- REDWatch has a broader coverage than Waterloo. REDWatch is incorporated and its membership includes public tenants, private renters, owners, and people who work in the area. It runs on donations of time and money, and receives no government funding. It was set up to ensure the areas’ diverse communities are heard in discussions with government about what happens locally. REDWatch has been active in Waterloo since plans for estate redevelopment leaked in 2004. During the 2011 public housing master plan process, it fought a plan that wanted to remove 20% of public housing from Redfern and Waterloo. This master plan Groundswell has resources for capacity building and WPHAG is active so REDWatch is not doing some things it did last time. It is still pushing for the best possible processes and outcomes, holding monthly public forums (6pm first Thursday of the month at The Factory) and documenting what is happening on its website. You can see information about the current and past pushes for the redevelopment of the Waterloo public housing estate on Waterloo Public Housing Renewal tab on the REDWatch website at www.redwatch.org.au. REDWatch has a Facebook page and most information goes out to its email lists – to join this email firstname.lastname@example.org. A major focus this time around has been to get improved human services support for tenants – REDWatch says it cannot support any redevelopment of the buildings without a comprehensive and integrated human services plan to support the tenants with high and complex needs who will live there.
- WPHAG was established in 2016 by Waterloo tenants Richard Weeks, Riley Lichey and Jason Selwood. It is a mix of people from the Waterloo Estate who are defending public housing in Waterloo. Together with allies from the local mob, architects, researchers and media, they are lobbying State Government for guarantees on tenants’ rights and the development of tenant-driven social housing policies. It established the tent embassy on Waterloo Green in mid-2016 to get support for a petition and has put a lot of time into ensuring maintenance is addressed. WPHAG has established the WPHAG Future Planning Centre (WFPC) as a community and volunteer run shopfront near the IGA in the centre of the Waterloo Estate. It is open Monday to Friday from 10am-3pm for the duration of the Waterloo master planning process. The space has a 3D scale model of Waterloo that people can add information to, it has a resource library, a community notice board, a calendar of events related to the master planning process, a timeline of the process so people can see where we’re at, and space for people to have their say throughout the process. WFPC is also an incubator of ideas, a space for conversation and connection and a place where volunteers with expertise can contribute and assist the community. Workshops, reading groups and community discussions with guest speakers are all part of what WPHAG is doing to provide better information for the community and to help inform the process with community led participation and action. An Aboriginal worker will also operate out of the WFPC after much lobbying by WPHAG. WPHAG meets every Tuesday from 4-6pm at the WFPC for residents to monitor what is happening at WFPC, find out what is going on and meet other residents. For more information email email@example.com, visit their website or Facebook page.
#WeLiveHere2017 is a community-led art project, a social action campaign and documentary. In collaboration with Waterloo residents of the iconic Matavai and Turanga Towers, coloured lights are being installed into each window of people’s homes. Residents choose a colour that reflects how they are feeling. By illuminating the towers from the inside, the project celebrates the people of Waterloo, showing the world “We Live Here” before our suburb changes. The project is generating important discussion about the importance of public housing and the communities affected by large-scale urban renewal: the lights are on, somebody’s home from 9 September 2017. $WeLiveHere2017 has a website and a Facebook Page.
Community Projects – There have been many projects operating across the estate such as the Milk Crate Theatre Project Turning Towers. Milk Crate Theatre teamed up with Counterpoint Community Services and South Sydney Community Aid to create an original, interactive play inspired by the NSW Government plan to redevelop the inner city suburb of Waterloo during February and March 2017. Another Milk Crate project is My Future Waterloo by Mount Carmel students supported by Counterpoint and Sydney Story Factory. Similar projects include the Waterloo Art Project and an oral history project. Such projects help a community stay connected and give them a voice during a time of dramatic and rapid change. Most of these operate out of one of the organisations listed above.
Service Providers – Many services work with people on the Waterloo estate. They will continue to meet people’s needs during the redevelopment and will meet new needs as they arise during the redevelopment. Please raise any needs you have with your existing providers. If you do not have an existing contact, then approach one of the organisations mentioned above for assistance. Kira Osborne (firstname.lastname@example.org) has an email list to keep organisations up to date about the Waterloo redevelopment and there is a quarterly meeting for agencies.
Geoff Turnbull is co-editor of Inner Sydney Voice Magazine