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One year on and the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy continues to fight

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy at Redfern. Photo: Callum Cyrus

By Callum Cyrus

 
The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy continues to represent Sydney’s indigenous community in protest, one year after the Embassy pitched tents at Eveleigh Street.
Despite several eviction notices, with the latest timed to coincide with Sorry Day, the Embassy remains.
The community at Redfern’s Block is pitted against the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) whose Pemulwuy project has caused tension with protesters.
Speaking with City Hub, an AHC spokesperson said, “This is a complicated issue and sometimes change is something we don’t like, but people should understand this project is an opportunity to really do something for our community.”
“There is no part of the Pemulwuy Project that is for sale. The income from the commercial and retail precincts will sustain the 62 houses that we are building,” the spokesperson said.
On a visit from this newspaper last weekend, the occupiers were found in good spirits, preparing for their next action.
This month, the Embassy will again take to the streets, holding two marches which could spill on to the front doorsteps of Deicorp, developers of the $70 million Pemulwuy scheme destined for Eveleigh Street.
Aunty Jenny Munro, one of the community’s leading figures and a former member of the AHC, will speak to students at the University of New South Wales, furthering the Embassy’s message.
There is talk of legal proceedings and some believe that a submission to an arbiter such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption could create a level playing field.
“[The AHC] wants to try and fight us off this land, but if [the authorities] had a look through the records in court you’ll see the endemic… mismanagement and disorganisation have really abrogated their duties to the community,” she said.
While the AHC stresses student accommodation and shops will be vital if affordable houses are to go-ahead, there is no guarantee on when these residences are going to be delivered.
Sceptics at the Embassy allege that commercial arrangements between Deicorp and the AHC put the long term promise to deliver affordable housing into doubt.
Deicorp once aided the AHC with a $500,000 bank loan, but then joined with a marketing firm proclaiming “Redfern’s potential”. today, Aunty Munro said this does not inspire confidence from the community.
“The housing company has to realise that the developer is just going to use them to make money, as the tool, that’s their business. They don’t care what community they destroy or disrupt in the process,” Aunty Munro said.
“This is sacred land for our people, and we will defend it to the end.”
The AHC has worked to dismiss the controversy.
“They have claimed they needed to “save” the block, whereas the block is indeed owned by an Aboriginal Company,” the spokesperson said.
“The Embassy has made other claims, including that the AHC had sold the land to developers, and that we weren’t building any affordable housing at all,” the company told City Hub.

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