At last, a lift for Redfern!
REDFERN: The members of the Lift Redfern group were delighted to hear the announcement by the Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian on August 15 that Redfern station would finally get a lift, as part of the $770 million Transport Access Program. As the Minister’s official announcement stated: “A tender has been issued for a concept design to provide lift access to one platform at Redfern, allowing customers to access all train lines via Central station.”
The Lift Redfern group, comprising residents and various organisations in the Redfern area, has lobbied tirelessly to create awareness around the issue, gathering thousands of signatures for a petition, which they brought for debate in Parliament in August last year. But at the time, Minister Berejiklian had responded that Redfern station would not be included in the list of upgrades in the Transport Access Plan.
It was with a huge sense of relief, then, that the Lift Redfern campaigners welcomed the latest news. Geoff Turnbull, spokesperson for local residents’ group REDWatch and member of Lift Redfern, said: “I think today’s announcement will be welcomed by the 11,500 people who signed the petition and went to Parliament saying we want some action on this. At least it’s a start, and hopefully it’s not the end.”
But there is still a long way to go for the station to be fully accessible: “Lift Redfern asked for two things in their latest petition: one was that we wanted a lift on one platform, initially so there was some way of gaining accessibility, and then we wanted a timetable for when the rest of the upgrade would happen. We’ve got one of the two things, now we want to find out what the timeframe is for having lifts on all the platforms and for upgrading the station,” Mr Turnbull said.
Michael Chapman, member of Lift Redfern, says that bringing the community together around the issue was a victory in itself: “It’s been about community capital building. We started the exercise thinking about how we can get separate organisations and people, across Redfern, Eveleigh, Darlington and Waterloo, to work together where they had a common cause to achieve something. Today we’ve achieved something along the path of the ultimate achievement. It’s not over,” he said.
Another strong and vocal supporter of the Lift Redfern campaign is City of Sydney Greens Councillor Irene Doutney, who declared: “I think it’s terrific, it’s very long overdue, and this has been a long battle for something that was so blatantly needed. It’s been hard to get any action out of either of the last two governments. This has validated all the work of the Lift Redfern group and its predecessors, who also lobbied for the station, particularly Trevor Davies. I think it’s really important and it shows there is a hope for people power.”
Students of Alexandria Park Community School in grade 5/6A were very pleased to hear the news too, when their teacher Martha Austin announced it in class. The students, who had participated in the campaign by creating a superhero called RL and writing stories around Redfern station in collaboration with the Sydney Story Factory [and graphic artist Erin Dullard], said they were “so pleased we could be part of such a great community project such as the Redfern Lift project. It is wonderful to see that all the work of all involved has paid off and we have reached the goal of getting a lift at Redfern station. It will be a very useful addition for all members of the community.”