A number of community issues in which the Glebe Society has been engaged have occurred over the past year in Glebe. The 40th Anniversary of the passage of national legislation, initiated by Tom Uren, to purchase the Glebe Estate from the Church of England was celebrated by a Pop Up Park Day at the park on the corner of Catherine St and Mt Vernon St in Friday 10 October, 2014. The Glebe Community Development Project (GCDP) together with community members organised the celebration and associated Photography competition on Glebe Community Life. The Glebe Society members participated in this event. The winners of the Photography competition were announced at the event where Jamie Parker MP, Verity Firth and Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis all spoke, emphasising the importance of the maintenance of community housing upon the community’s wellbeing. It was a positive indication of Glebe’s diversity to witness the collaborative celebration by Glebe residents who attended this event.
A Glebe Society representative attended the Public Accounts Select Committee Inquiry into Tenancy Management in Social Housing held on Monday 8 and 15 September 2014 at State Parliament, where evidence from Community Housing providers, tenants’ advocates and disability advocacy groups was considered. This provided much valuable information which contributed to the Glebe Society Submission, made in March 2015 to the State Government in support of social housing, which stated in its preamble Social housing is integral to Glebe and of vital interest to Glebe residents and hence to the Glebe Society …. Glebe as a community is committed to public housing, including the Glebe Estate which is fundamental to Glebe’s built and social character. Virginia Simpson-Young is to be thanked for her collation of the submission.
A public event, Speak out to save Women’s Refuges took place on Friday 29 August 2014 at Minogue Reserve, Glebe. This was the day of the transfer of the women’s refuge Elsie to successful tenderer, the St Vincent de Paul Society, under the State Government’s Going Home, Staying Home policy. Many other inner suburban services were scheduled for closure. Along with other concerned community groups the Glebe Society protested to the Hon Gabriel Upton, then Family and Community Services (FaCS) Minister. On 30 October 2014 following this campaign, Jamie Parker MP announced that full funding and buildings have been restored to Detour House (in Glebe), Young People’s Refuge, Stepping Out and Community Restorative Centre women’s program in the Balmain electorate. The additional funding was made available for only one year however, during which time many services to vulnerable people will be wound down.
Following considerable recent media exposure of the plight of homeless people in Sydney, enquiries were made of Jamie Parker’s office and with the Deputy Lord Mayor, Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre and Marrickville/Leichhardt Domestic Violence monitoring group. While further information is needed to establish details of current position, it appears through anecdotal reports (eg to Jamie’s office) that shelters may only be staffed during business hours, and that Elsie personnel no longer attend the regional Domestic Violence monitoring group, so there is considerable opacity around the issue. The City of Sydney had recently rehoused 12 people who were living rough in Wentworth Park. The city’s emergency homeless services are being overextended and although a recent media report on the problem of homelessness (eg SMH Saturday 8 August 2015, p11) indicates that City of Sydney and Government of NSW have recently agreed to a three year program to address the issue, the City of Sydney seems to be taking the leading role in inner suburbs of Sydney. This situation is one which the Glebe Society will continue to monitor.
The Glebe Society expressed concern over the discontinuance of Housing NSW funding for Glebe Community Development Project (GCDP) from December 2014. The Glebe Society raised its concern with Hon Gabriel Upton, then Minister, about the imminent defunding of the GCDP by the FaCs Housing authority. However the funding was not extended but the service remains operating through funding from University of Sydney.
The annual Glebe Society sponsored Sunset Soirée for Centipede at Glebe Public School was held on Friday 7 November 2014 at the Glebe Rowing Club. While attendance was limited it was gratifying to see our community representatives Hon Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition, Robyn Kemmis, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney and Verity Firth, the then endorsed Labor candidate for the State seat of Balmain all finding the time to attend and support this very worthy venture. The Sunset Soirée for 2015 is due to be held on 9 October. Friends of Centipede look forward to continued support from the Glebe Society members.
The Glebe Society supported the Glebe Youth Service in its call for continuation of funding by City of Sydney of their successful After Dark program this year. The funding was subsequently extended.
Plans for the refurbishment of the ‘Old Butcher’s Shop’ on the corner of Franklyn and Glebe Sts by City of Sydney were proposed in 2014. The Glebe Society supported and welcomed this addition to Glebe’s community facilities. The refurbishment was recently completed and the premises were opened on Saturday 8 August 2015 by Lord Mayor Clover Moore. The creation of a small public use space, opening out onto ‘Elephant Park’, could prove very beneficial for small community gatherings and meetings and as a much needed venue for ‘tweenies’(8-12 year olds) and their parents for some after school activities if so desired.
The painting of the Elsie Walk Mural, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the founding of Elsie Women’s refuge in Glebe began in early 2015. However the very sad passing of one of the artists, Liz Rooney, has delayed its completion. The Glebe Society extended the condolences of its members to Liz’s family and community.
The Glebe Justice Centre was officially opened on 15 February and is undertaking a number of community based initiatives, including mediation training for some community members. The Glebe Society has cooperated with CEO Stuart Davey on several initiatives to date and will continue to do so.
NAIDOC Week, which occurred from 5 to 12 July 2015, saw an event run every day. The Glebe Society recognises the importance of this event for Glebe’s Aboriginal community and would like to commend the management of Glebe events by Fiona Smith, the Glebe NAIDOC convenor. The Glebe Society is considering sponsoring this event next year through advertising NAIDOC week events on our website and in the Bulletin, and contributing to the printing of the program.