Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Come to the Roberts Street forum

Redevelopment of Northcote's Roberts Street public housing estate will be the focus of a public forum next Tuesday 26 June from 6.00–8.00pm at the Jika Jika community centre (cnr Plant & Union Streets, Northcote). The forum is being run by the Office of Housing as part of its public consultation about the redevelopment, but support is needed to broaden the agenda to include not just the redevelopment proposal, but the ongoing welfare of the existing Roberts Street residents during and beyond the relocation process.

A recent email from a social planner engaged to carry out the consultation described the residents as 'the people who are most directly and significantly affected by the redevelopment'. If that is the sincerely held belief of the state government, the Office of Housing, and our local MP, Fiona Richardson, then the forum must include an accounting of the treatment of the residents in the relocation.

I call on Fiona Richardson to make herself available to local community members at the forum, and to answer questions about why the relocation process has acted to exclude independent advocacy on the residents' behalf.

The current process has meant that as many as 90 per cent of residents have been unrepresented in meetings to discuss their relocation options, with a number of residents having received initial offers this week.

The process threatens to sever the connections with the local community built up by the residents over years, and to undermine community development efforts partly funded by the state government itself.

If the process can be changed to better meet the residents' needs, the Roberts Street redevelopment could serve as a valuable guide to best practice for other planned redevelopments. On the other hand, if a faulty process is replicated in other cases, the human impact and social damage will only be multiplied.

The true test will be the welfare of the residents over time, and I will be encouraging community efforts to monitor this and hold Richardson and the state government accountable. You can help by attending the forum and supporting our fellow community members who live at the Roberts Street flats.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are most welcome on any of the posts at Northcote Independent. I encourage feedback - positive or negative. Feel free to disagree, but remember that posts are moderated to ensure they are on the topic and in the spirit of open debate, as outlined in my editorial policy.