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Social issues need social services | South Sydney Herald South Sydney Herald


Social issues need social services

Public or private, all apartment blocks have their social problems. Building design can help minimise problems, but it cannot stop them. So social services in Waterloo should not be a lower priority than urban design as we consider the master-planning of the Waterloo estate.

Daily life in your home and neighbourhood is most tangibly felt through relationships with other people. How well someone gets along with their neighbours, or the ease with which they can call on a friend, are what makes an area a nice place to live.

The work to transform Waterloo by rebuilding it needs to coincide with government support of the social wellbeing of those who live there. Redevelopment needs to be supported by services that ensure everyone in Waterloo feels as healthy and safe as possible, and is able to find help when they need it.

This is what agencies and government mean when they talk about a human services plan for Waterloo.

Historically, public housing in NSW provided a place to live for working families on low incomes. Government policy changed, however, and today priority is given to people living with what bureaucratic language deems “complex needs”. This concentrates a range of people with additional needs into public housing. Examples of these include people living with cognitive impairment, trauma and mental health issues not being serviced adequately by the health system, and those exiting the prison system without transitioning support.

Independent agencies worry about what happens after someone gets the keys. There is no way to ensure people are accessing services and that their needs are not adversely affecting their neighbours.

At the request of local non-government organisations, Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) has agreed to develop a Human Services Plan for Waterloo. This is not the first attempt at a plan. REDWatch has documented many government attempts at such a strategy for Redfern and Waterloo since 2002. It is crucial to consider how the current approach differs and what mechanism will be put in place to ensure its recommendations are adopted.

The current iteration of the Human Services Plan aims to support the health, safety and wellbeing of Waterloo residents before, during and after the redevelopment. It promises to address a long list of concerns: housing, including affordability and relocations; safety; education and training, employment and social enterprise; health; service system coordination and accessibility; Aboriginal housing and cultural needs; community infrastructure and facilities; and community development, among others. The department is looking to begin community consultation towards the end of 2019.

This plan goes alongside two related documents:
• A Community Facilities Plan will look at spaces like community centres, gardens, parks and recreation centres, outlining where these will be placed, how they will be managed, and how they can be staged throughout the construction of the new estate.

• A Waterloo Aboriginal Housing and Cultural Needs Strategy will address affordable rental and ownership options for Aboriginal people; various community housing management approaches; employment opportunities; ways in which Aboriginal culture can be recognised in the future neighbourhood; and more.

The research consistently tells us that the physical mixing of residents of different incomes alone does not alleviate poverty and social disadvantage. A holistic approach that brings together services and acknowledges the varied needs of Waterloo residents is a necessary piece of a complicated puzzle.

If you would like to talk to someone about services in Waterloo or discuss the redevelopment, contact: Adam Antonelli at Counterpoint on 9698 9569, extension 3 or wrcd@counterpointcs.org.au, or Nina Serova at Inner Sydney Voice on 9004 2449 or cb@innersydneyvoice.org.au.

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