24 August 2015
Local Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP, and Greens NSW spokesperson for Aboriginal Justice, David Shoebridge, are calling on all levels of government to step up and ensure Aboriginal housing is funded on The Block.
This follows the decision of the NSW Supreme Court which ruled against the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, finding the Embassy was “trespassing” on Aboriginal land at The Block.
Greens NSW MP and Spokesperson for Aboriginal Justice David Shoebridge said:
“Jenny Munro, a proud Aboriginal Waradjuri elder and the Tent Embassy have been engaging in good faith negotiations with the Federal Minister and the Aboriginal Housing Corporation (AHC), and believed they had reached a final agreement last week on Aboriginal housing in The Block.
“Ms Munro made it clear to the Court that she does not accept that the Aboriginal people ever ceded sovereignty of this land to the English crown. In response the Court held:
The Defendant’s aboriginality, and her contention that the Aboriginal people have never ceded sovereignty to the English Crown does not help her.
“The fact that the law can so readily dismiss our first people’s prior occupation and custodianship of this land is proof positive of a fundamental flaw in our legal system.
“When it comes to symbolic Aboriginal land like The Block, Aboriginality and more than 40,000 years of Aboriginal custody and possession, should never be dismissed so lightly by our Courts.
“This is far from the end of the struggle for Aboriginal housing on The Block, which is supported by a cross section of the Redfern community,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Greens MP for Newtown Jenny Leong said:
“This community – and the significance of maintaining Aboriginal housing and community on Gadigal country in Redfern is too important to be ignored.”
“Our neighbourhood is awash with plans to develop and invest in infrastructure projects – with billions for Urban Growth’s development of the Central to Eveleigh site and constant construction by the University of Sydney. And yet there is no money for Aboriginal housing.
“Successive governments have been a part of creating this mess – it’s time for them to step up and help resolve it.
“While it may seem that there is currently an unresolvable conflict – in reality all parties agree that we need to see the funding secured to build Aboriginal housing,” Ms Leong said.
The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy were established on ‘The Block’ on National Sorry Day last year, May 26, after the Aboriginal Housing Company put forward a planning proposal for a $70 million commercial development on the site.
The Block in Redfern was one of the first parts of urban Australia to be formally returned to Aboriginal people.