Welcome everyone. Iíd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land.
I hold these meetings so I can report directly to you, and you can hear directly from officers from Council, Housing NSW, Police and other agencies so they can take action on concerns.
To fix problems, we need to listen to each other and work together. There will be time for you to ask questions and raise concerns after the presentations. I also remind you that we donít talk about individuals and their personal matters here, so some things have to be discussed in private after the meeting.
With us today, we have:
Surry Hills Police Commander, Tony Crandall
Dominic Grenot, Public Housing Liaison Officer, City of Sydney
Cheryl Wharton, Customer Service Duty Officer & Craig Parkinson, Crime Prevention Officer
David White & Charmaine Jones - Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development
Prue Rheuben, Assistant Manager - Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre
Representatives from the Surry Hills Public Tenants Association and Neighbourhood Advisory Board
Mike Fish, Public Spaces Liaison Officer, City of Sydney
We have apologies from Douglas Holmes, Consumer Participation Coordinator, St Vincentís Mental Health. He has the Faces in the Street conference & Kaleidoscope Art Exhibition meeting today. Jeanette Cudmore, Health Education Officer, St Vincentís Community Health has a staff training session booked today.
Also here are Leanne Abbott and Tessa Whittle from my Electorate Office, and Hayley Robertson from my Town Hall office.
Unfortunately no one from Housing NSW was available to attend the meeting today, however the Operations Manager has sent me an update on activities in this area.
I will start by reporting on some of my work, give you Housing NSW's update and then ask our guests to update you and answer questions.
Since we last met, I hurt my ankle, and this stopped me getting out as much as I would have liked, and I missed some of your events. Thank you to those who sent well wishes, as you can see I am well and mobile again.
I hear that you had two great events in October for Mental Health Month, with the third annual Pet Day and an Australian record simultaneous yo-yo event to raise awareness about the ups and downs of mental health recovery, so congratulations to everyone involved. Dom Grenot was involved in both events and will give you more information in his report.
Northcott residents celebrated your 50th birthday in December, and Leanne tells me you had a wonderful day with drama and music, and the first sneak peak of the People of the Sandhill book that local tenants Allison George and Katrina Hendrickson are putting together about the history of the land on which Northcott is built.
You should all be proud of this vibrant community and I thank the many people who have contributed over the years.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear that Housing NSW presented the Surry Hills Public Tenants Association with a cheque for $5,000 and I understand that this money will be used to further strengthen and resource this community.
You have a new Community Development Worker, Raul Pollak who was not able to join us today. Raul has taken over from Catherine Carr and we wish Catherine well in her new role in Waterloo. I am pleased that the Area Director and Housing NSW continue to support the Community Development Worker position. I will continue to advocate ensuring this vital role is kept in the community.
I also congratulate the Surry Hills Public Tenants Association on getting incorporated, which will help you get grants for projects. I encourage you to talk to the new committee about you ideas for their work.
City of Sydney and Housing NSW officers meet regularly to solve problems using our Memorandum of Understanding, and my Electorate Officers also meet with the Area Director regularly to sort out local problems.
I am pleased to hear that action came out of the Safety Audit, including better lighting, new seats, branches pruned so that you can see well ahead on the paths, graffiti removed and uneven and slippery surfaces fixed.
Next on the list is repainting the car park markings and a new unit numbering system and signs on the estate. Police, ambulance, posties, support services, visitors and tenants have all complained about the numbering system for units in the Northcott estate, and Meghan Hibbert tells me Housing NSW is consulting with you on the new number system.
Council has installed seats on some adjacent streets to provide rest stops between home and shops.
Surry Hills Police trialled a neighbourhood watch scheme in Block A to encourage tenants to look out for and take care of each other as well as report problems to the right places. I look forward to hearing progress of this trial and other steps to improve safety.
I also welcome the new Surry Hills Police Commander and Crime Prevention Officer. Superintendent Donna Adney has moved to another position and Superintendent Tony Crandell who was at Kings Cross has come to Surry Hills. Iíve worked closely with Tony, and know he will work effectively with you to address crime and safety concerns.
Craig Parkinson has replaced Kate Baker as the Crime Prevention Officer, and we look forward to Craig continuing the work with you to prevent problems and make your home safer.
In the last session of Parliament, I asked Questions about oral health services for low income earners and the waiting times for public dental treatment; legal advice and financial counselling services for disadvantaged people who cannot afford to pay for this help.
I asked the Minister for Police and spoke in the Parliament about having enough police to deal with violence and anti-social behaviour, including for Surry Hills. I support a diverse late night economy, and want to make sure that its safe for people to go out and have a good time.
The Government continues to sell 99 year leases on public housing homes in Millers Point, and I have been working with tenants there to stop any further sales. We need public housing in the inner city where there is good transport, jobs and support services that people need.
Copies of my Questions and the Ministerís responses are at the back of the room.
Parliament is now in recess till after the NSW Elections on March 26. There are voting enrolment forms and postal voting applications at the back of the room if you need them.
Since Council's upgrade to Ward Park, there are many more people using the park regularly, which discourages crime and anti-social activity. And itís good for our health to get outside and have a walk and chat.
Ward Park is now off leash for dogs. I know many of you have pets and I am please that you have this pleasant space close by to enjoy them. Of course, dog owners need to be responsible, clean up after their pet and keep them under control.
The basket ball court has been replaced by a table tennis table, and I understand bats and balls will be available from this Centre. I hope you will get to have a game there when the weather cools down.
Recycling at Northcott continues to improve since the two large recycling rooms have been installed. You can recycle containers made of aluminium, steel, plastic and glass and also paper and cardboard. The City of Sydney, Housing NSW and SHPTA have worked together to help educated tenants on recycling. Thank you to those tenants who work to prevent waste and keep your homes and the public areas clean and a nice a place to live.
The Surry Hills Community Centre and Library has activities and classes including free beginners computer classes, painting and drawing, movie making, ballroom and line dancing, sewing and knitting, and child care. They also offer English, multicultural cooking, Pilates and tai chi.
They have regular excursions, and are going to The Entrance on Monday 28 February and then Wisemans Ferry and Richmond Airbase on Monday 28 March, with buses leaving from Northcott. Check out the fabulous building, and have some fun while you learn new things.
This is the last meeting before the NSW State election on 26 March. I want to say that I have been proud to serve this community in my role as MP since 1988, and more recently in, my role as Lord Mayor. I have enjoyed working with all those who help make Northcott and your area a better place to live and to visit. There are many inspiring people here.
Some of our achievements over the years include:
Re-opening the Community Room so you have a space to meet, learn, create and develop;
Getting the Community Development Worker position in 2002;
The fabulous theatre show StickyBricks and 900 Neighbours with Big hArt;
Being the first public housing estate in the world to be recognised as a ĎSafe Communityíby the World Health Organisation;
Council appointing a Public Housing Liaison Officer to support your efforts;
The new Surry Hills Library and Community Facilities, Ward Park upgrade, new public toilet and playground upgrade; and
The Inner Sydney Mental Health Recovery Working Party helping people with a mental illness get back on their feet.
Working together with agencies and organisations, tenants have improved safety and amenity, and helped many tenants who are having a hard time or need a hand.
I thank you for your support.