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Tent embassy remains under threat

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy at Redfern. Photo: Callum Cyrus

By Callum Cyrus

 

A leading figure of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy has challenged the authorities to take occupiers to court after they were threatened with eviction on National Sorry Day.

Protesters at The Block in Eveleigh Street, Redfern were issued with a 14-day eviction notice on Tuesday May 12 by the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), who own the development site.

Developers Deicorp are preparing to start on the Pemulwuy project in February 2016, which the AHC says will “rebuild a strong Aboriginal community that encapsulates cultural values and economically sustainable Aboriginal community at the Block.”

But critics of the project have been upset by Deicorp’s emphasis on shops and a seven storey student apartment building set to be erected in the area.

So far, student residences have proved more enticing to investors than plans to build affordable housing for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.

Aunty Jenny Munro, a founding member of the AHC, said she remained unconvinced the company would ever provide affordable housing at The Block and hoped the protesters’ case could be heard in the courtroom.

“If you follow the development plans it was never going to be a big developer’s dream like they’ve planned now. It was supposed to be low-income housing for Aboriginal people,” she told City Hub.

“We’ll do our best to stay here and that means they’re going to have to take us through the court system somehow. Either with the sheriff to arrest us for trespass or with the police to arrest us for trespass.”

But the AHC insists that student residences and retail developments are necessary to ensure 62 affordable apartments for Aboriginals can go-ahead.

A spokeswoman from the AHC told City Hub their intention was for the project to be the “foundation for a strong and healthy Aboriginal Strait Islander community at Redfern, with an emphasis on cultural values spirituality and employment.”

“Unfortunately we still have not seen a positive viable proposal for the Aboriginal housing at Redfern from the people protesting at the site.”

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