Aboriginal IssuesHousingNews

Flag mural makes way for Aboriginal housing

REDFERN: Since being painted in 2000, the flag mural wall which featured in the opening credits of Redfern Now has become an iconic backdrop for many photos of Redfern. On June 13, it came down to make way for affordable Aboriginal housing, which is sorely needed in Redfern and Waterloo.

Pemulwuy construction site, June 13, 2019. Photo:Lyn Turnbull

Demolition of the Elouera Tony Mundine Gym, on which the flag mural was painted, is now complete. The Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) is excavating an underground car park for the Aboriginal families who will live in the 62 homes to be built on The Block as part of the Pemulwuy Project.

Thirty-six townhouses will be constructed above the car park. There will be 12 four-bedroom townhouses, 19 three-bedroom townhouses, and five two-bedroom townhouses fronting either Louis or Eveleigh streets for Aboriginal families needing larger homes.

The gym will be relocated up the hill from Vine Street to the other end of The Block on Caroline Street. It will share the ground level of a five-storey building with gallery space. The remaining levels of the building will comprise 21 two-bedroom and five three-bedroom affordable housing units for Aboriginal families.

Opposite the gym, on the land between Lawson and Caroline streets, will be a childcare centre and adjoining playground. An Aboriginal flag will fly from a specially designed flagpole on the corner of Eveleigh and Lawson streets, outside a building with commercial space and the new AHC office.

It has been widely misreported that the flag mural was on the land where the student housing is being built. This is not the case. The Col James Student Housing, which has 110 places dedicated for Aboriginal students, will be on the eastern side of Eveleigh Street adjacent to the railway line. Under a leasehold agreement the student housing provider Altira is building the housing and will manage it.

In March the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) approved the final version of the student housing. It is a 24-storey building that tapers to eight storeys at the north near to some terraces. In front of it, separated by a courtyard, on Eveleigh Street opposite the new terraces, is also a three-storey building that will have services and common rooms for the students.

One of the reasons given by the IPC panel in its approval for a taller building with a smaller footprint than what the AHC had originally proposed was so that the railway wall, which is covered by Aboriginal themed murals in need of repainting, could be retained. The AHC has commissioned the original artist, Danny Eastwood, for the project.

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