What is the Pemulwuy Project?
The Pemulwuy Project is about the redevelopment of the land known as “the Block” which signifies the struggles of the AHC in taking ownership of “the Block” in all aspects.
AHC Social Plan – Dr Angela Pitts: In 2000, Dr Pitts who has a background in social and urban planning, volunteered her services to prepare a Community Social Plan to address the social and economic issues, to be used as a planning tool to ensure that the AHC’s vision was incorporated in the strategies and guidelines for the proposed Pemulwuy Redevelopment Project. We were at a stage that required not only a Business Plan, but a plan for our community to express their goals and objectives and to improve their standard of living and quality of life.
The New South Wales government had passed a major project bill in 2005 with a number of sites in the Redfern Waterloo Authority declared sites of state significance. The AHC land was encumbered within these boundaries, despite Micky looping with the relevant political parties to not let the Bill pass, as this was going to hinder the progress of the block being redeveloped.
On the ground Mick and the team had to get the message across to the AHC tenants and supporters, that we were at risk of losing the land if we continued to stand by and allow the wave of crime and drugs to thrive, which gave the government ammunition to justify their position on forcible acquisition of “the Block”.
AHC established the Pemulwuy Vision Taskforce, made up of independent professionals and academics with no government appointees. The role of the taskforce was to provide an independent and professional assessment of the Pemulwuy Project’s Plan for 62 affordable Aboriginal homes on “the Block” in Redfern. With specific consideration to economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainability of the proposal. In 2007 the Pemulwuy Project Concept Plan was lodged with the Department of Planning NSW and approval was granted June 2009.
The Aboriginal Housing Company Limited’s Mission statement is to ensure “that Aboriginal people enjoy the same standard of living as all other Australians”.
To redevelop the land into a mixed used site which includes affordable housing for 62 families, a gymnasium, commercial and retail space, a gallery, student accommodation for 154, and a childcare space for 60 children.
Please click on Video Gallery to watch our videos on Pemulwuy Project and find out the latest news on the project.
Q & A
- What is Pemulwuy?
Pemulwuy will be a vibrant community with affordable housing, businesses and community facilities.
The Pemulwuy Project will include development of affordable housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, student accommodation, commercial and retail space, a childcare centre and gym.
Pemulwuy will breathe new life into the Block, and restore a strong and healthy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to Redfern with an emphasis on cultural values, spirituality and employment.
We want our community to come together to realise this vision – we are stronger together.
- Will Aboriginal people still live on the Block?
Yes. Pemulwuy includes plans for 62 affordable accommodations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people only.
The Block will remain in Aboriginal hands totally owned by the Aboriginal Housing Company.
- Why are you re-developing the Block?
We recognise that we can’t go back to the dysfunction that previously was a feature of life on the Block, where we couldn’t provide a safe environment for families and older people.
Redeveloping our land affords us the opportunity for self-determination and to build a stronger platform for future generations, keeping the AHC in total control of our own destiny.
- Why don’t you just develop housing – why are you developing a commercial centre as well?
Pemulwuy needs to ensure that it is financially viable and sustainable. The commercial precinct will generate income so that the long term goal of affordable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing is achieved.
- How will you fund the new Affordable Housing?
Affordable Housing is not easily able to be funded commercially because rent income would not cover loan repayments and operating costs. Affordable Housing rents are generally tied to people’s income not the market rent.
Most new Affordable Housing in NSW has been built with funds from the Federal Government such as under the recent Stimulus Package. Some, like that undertaken by City West Housing, comes from levies placed on other developers by Council.
The AHC is still pursuing funding for the construction of the affordable housing. Those who want to see affordable housing on the Block should be lobbying the Federal and State Government for such funds for this project.
- If the AHC exists to provide housing why is it doing commercial buildings?
Finding money to build affordable housing is one part of the problem, the other is maintaining it once it is operational. When tenants are paying low rents, not commercial ones, there is not sufficient income from rents to maintain buildings and to cover operating costs.
The Government has the same problem with public housing. There needs to be a “subsidy” from somewhere for affordable housing to be viable for the long-term.
The AHC have taken the next step to create a business model which creates a diversification of income from the commercial component of the Pemulwuy project to FUND the affordable housing on the Block and beyond. Our plans will allow us to break away from that vicious cycle of being dependent on the government.
- Why is there student housing in the project?
The site is close to a number of universities and colleges and there is strong demand for student housing. AHC research indicated that provision of student housing would be a viable commercial enterprise, the profits from which will be used to subsidise the Affordable Housing and the AHC’s operations.
This is a commercial enterprise to make the AHC and our Affordable Housing financially independent of Government funds in the long term.
- Will the houses just be for middle-class, better off Aboriginal people?
No, we have planned for a mixture of affordable housing. Of course, like all our housing, we expect people to meet their responsibilities as tenants and to be part of a safe community.
- Does any other identity own the land?
No, the Aboriginal Housing Company is the developer, and we own the land. We have engaged a construction company to build the project, but we retain control of the project and ownership of the land, once again allowing the AHC to stand alone without government dependency.
Links to our DA Approval