Sunday, January 26, 2014

The survival of Redfern

January 26th commemorates the invasion of what is now known as Australia, by British “settlers” in 1788.

For Aboriginal people, this marked the beginning of a long history of dispossession.  The Block, in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, has been a place of significance for Aboriginal people for generations, and a newfound home away from home for many dispossessed Aboriginal people for centuries.  Once a ghetto and no-go zone for taxis, Redfern and The Block are now experiencing a wave of popularity as property prices skyrocket and cashed up hipsters and foodies descend on the streets of the once avoided neighborhood.  Recently, homes on the Block’s notorious Eveleigh St have been advertised for rent at up to $1200 per week. With the median rent prices for Redfern sitting at $700 pw for houses and $550 for units, many Aboriginal people are being priced out of the local housing market and once again, find themselves removed from a place of cultural significance with no real choice in the matter.

It seems that the jury is still out on whether the gentrification of Redfern should be viewed as positive or not. Presumably those who are making big bucks out of its development think it’s a fabulous thing for the community, who can now enjoy the wonders of a café breakfast of bircher muesli and activated almonds, accompanied (of course) by a v60 pour over of single origin. However without affordable housing in the area, the “community” as it has always been known, will no doubt cease to exist in no time at all. As we have seen time and time again, social housing tenants who have long resided in areas once considered “undesirable” by wider society are easily picked up and moved to new “more suitable” locations when the market and government demand they do so. The notable, and sad difference in the case of Redfern is that today, we commemorate 226 years of dispossession for Aboriginal people, with no end in sight as yet. Long-standing services like the Aboriginal Medical and Legal Services, along with the newer National Centre of Indigenous Excellence operate in the area to service the Aboriginal community. It fits that if the community no longer finds a trip to Redfern convenient, because they’ve been moved out to the suburbs of Sydney to make room for those who can afford the privilege of an inner city lifestyle, those services too, with all their history, will need to make the move.

I encourage those who haven’t already done so, to take a look at the award winning history of The Block developed by the SBS. 

Aboriginal Legal Officer


  1. in 2014, every human being living in this Country face the same problems. When it comes to housing, the rich Aboriginal people can afford to stay in Redfern, and the poorer Aboriginals will have to move somewhere cheaper, just like every body else. Should i complain because my ancestor was forcibly brought to Australia against his will, removed from his family and removed from his native Country, and as a result i am born in this country and not England? The world is ever changing, and what we have today, we may not have tomorrow. The world is multi-cultural, we are all human beings. What is important, is every body in this country has access to a home, an education for their children, proper medical facilities, food and clothing. every body is equal, no one is different or better or worse. This is how it is now. It's time to live for today and tomorrow, not yesterday. It's time to teach our children love, not hate.

  2. I suggest the above write go and see the movie Utopia ASAP and then he/she may realise that not all Australian have access to the basic resources, services and support systems that city people take for granted . Aboriginal people in Central and many regional parts of Australia are still suffering from past and bad policies by governments trying for a quick fix ......The whole response to Aboriginal inequality needs a rethink inline with creative, contemporary and effective decision making from politicians unafraid to acknowledge these effect from the past ....only then will the future look bright for so many struggling Aboriginal people who live with dignity but little else ....

  3. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have already been pushed out of Redfern into Waterloo which is facing the same gentrification as Redfern. When and if the Department of Land and Housing's plans for the regeneration of the area go ahead the displacement of low income tenants will be a real threat. The class divide in Redfern and Waterloo is palpable and growing as the demographics change with Alcohol Free Zones, sniffer dogs and building lock downs making life difficult for the traditional residents of the hood.

  4. Trouble is people in public housing think work is a dirty word. They trash their properties take no care burn the place and then are reallocated another new home to destroy. Black or white should be removed from public housing if it is not kept perfect. A gift to them because they do not work, drink and gamble and take drugs and get bitter when people go out for breakfast. They can go for breakfast if they cut out the beer, smokes,, drugs and cigarettes and work.

    1. Whoa - for a minute there I thought I'd linked through to the Daily Telegraph's website... Thanks for sharing your Anonymous thoughts.



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