• The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy at the Block in Redfern, Sydney is captured when it was last shut, August 27, 2015. (AAP)
EXCLUSIVE | Aunty Jenny Munro is opening a new front in the battle to get more low-cost social housing in Sydney. Danny Teece-Johnson reports.
By
Danny Teece-Johnson

Source:
NITV News
24 Jun 2016 - 11:58 AM  UPDATED 24 Jun 2016 - 12:16 PM

Key points

    • Fight for affordable housing steps up
    • Waterloo Towers demolition triggers protest
    • Redfern's Indigenous residents down from 35,00 to 300 in 43 years

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy will set up again on Saturday, almost a year after folding its 15-month campaign in the inner city.

That protest, also led by Jenny Munro, led to the Government spending $5 million  on 62 affordable homes to accompany a commercial precinct on the area known as ‘The Block’, the birthplace of the Black power movement. 

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Protesters at The Block in inner Sydney say their battle cry has been heard with the federal government committing $5 million to building homes for Aboriginal families at the site.

With the Waterloo Towers earmarked for demolition in mid-2017, the shortage of affordable homes is a major anxiety for low-income earners and Aboriginal residents in the Redfern and Waterloo area.

Angered by the NSW Government’s plan to build a new precinct in a mixture of private and social housing,  Jenny Munro and her supporters will set up the Tent Embassy on the Waterloo Green tomorrow morning, near to the site of the last Tent Embassy.

“The system has removed hope for our children," she told NITV.

"I grew up with hope, and I still maintain hope for our young people, but the system doesn’t give it to them, that’s why we have an epidemic of suicide in our young people, everyone needs hope to cling on to.”

In 1968 some 35,000 Indigenous people  lived in Redfern but with gentrification of the area that number had plummeted to just 300 by 2011,  according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and a report for NSW Urban Growth.

Aunty Jenny Munro says she continues to fight for Aboriginal rights and sovereignty because she sees a system that continues to oppress Australia’s First Peoples.

After the success of the last Tent Embassy in Redfern, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, said: "Congratulations to the Tent Embassy and to Jenny Munro on what I see as significant leadership in these matters.

"They're quite complex matters and it’s taken quite a long time to roll out.

"But everybody wants on Aboriginal land, affordable housing for Aboriginal people, that’s what they decided to do with the block, and I think that they have a much higher level of confidence that that’s going to happen."

Property prices and rents  have rocketed in the area, with median rents running at $830 a week for a house and $580 for a unit, and average house prices soaring from $592,000 in 2007 to $1.325 million this year, according to figures from realestate.com.au.

Earlier this year Minister for Social housing Brad Hazzard told 'The Point' that the intention was to remove some of the social disadvantage associated with the six  Waterloo housing blocks - Cook, Matavai, Turanga, Solander, Marton and Banks - but keep public housing tenants in the area.

“Our thinking was that would provide an opportunity for a redevelopment of the area to make sure all of the social housing tenants there are rehoused in nice, new accommodation over the next, well it won’t happen overnight, over the next 15-20 years to complete it and try and address some of the social disadvantage that’s occurred in the area,” he said at the time.