Closure of Redfern hub devastates Aboriginal community
3 August 2022 at 1:08 pm
Iconic centre’s owner will soon open applications for new management and have promised to provide “safe access” for the community in the meantime.
Redfern’s Aboriginal community has been left reeling after the town’s National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) announced it would shut its doors.
NITV News reported on Monday that staff had been notified that all services would be stopped from Monday 8 August.
According to NITV, staff were not given any notice of or explanation for the closure.
It comes after the NCIE’s ownership was transferred to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) from the Commonwealth’s Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) in June.
The Guardian reported that the closure followed the ILSC failing to reach an agreement with the NSWALC on the future direction of the NCIE.
It’s understood ILSC still runs the site’s operations, with the organisation announcing the closure in a statement on its website.
Gomeroi and Wiradjuri woman Margaret Haumono, co-founder and CEO of non for profit Redfern Youth Connect, told NITV News that staff had been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and had been given small redundancy payments.
A press release on the NSWALC’s website states that the council is currently “undertaking further due diligence to ensure continuity of the business”.
NSWALC Chairperson Danny Chapman said in the statement that the council is “committed to the site reaching its full potential in its new chapter”.
He told The Guardian applications would be opened for a community or industry third-party to manage the site’s fitness and aquatic centre, and that the land council would continue to “provide community organisations with safe access to the centre” in the meantime.
The closure has attracted concern from the community, advocates and politicians.
I strongly encourage the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council work together to find a solution so the centre’s programs and services continue to benefit the local community.
— Linda Burney MP (@LindaBurneyMP) August 2, 2022
Linda Burney MP tweeted a call for the ILSC and NSWALC to “work together to find a solution” to ensure the continuation of services at the Redfern centre.
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) called the closure “devastating” in an email to its supporters.
Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore has asked the City of Sydney’s CEO to investigate the closure and what action is needed to reopen the centre.
I am very concerned about the sudden closure of @theNCIE. This Centre provides vital community services to the growing Indigenous population in the area and is an important employer in the community.
— Clover Moore (@CloverMoore) August 2, 2022
Meanwhile, various news outlets reported hundreds of supporters gathered at the site on Tuesday to express their disappointment and anger and to protest against the closure.
Norma Ingram addresses an absolutely packed protest meeting at NCIE. Workers, community members, people who use the many services, all united against the abrupt sackings and closure yesterday. “We are ready for a fight” pic.twitter.com/p7qgNn8lS7
— Padraic Gibson (@paddygibson) August 2, 2022