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History “We need to clean out the crime – we want the evil spirit out of this community… Whether they like it or not, this is going to happen. A lot of people will complain. They’ve been here a long time, but it’s time for a change” Mick Mundine, chief executive of AHC. The Block is a colloquial name given to a well-known suburban area of Sydney, Australia. The area, which is located across Redfern on the border of Darlington, was slowly purchased one building at a time by the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), to provide affordable housing for disadvantaged Aboriginals. As the project expanded it became well known that the main hub of life in The Block could be found on Eveleigh Street, near Redfern train station. Nevertheless, by the early 70s white landlords of the area launched a campaign to evict all Aboriginal residents, as The Block had begun to adopt a prejudicial reputation for crime, violence and unruly behaviour. In spite of this, the area was, and still is to a certain extent, recognised as being a spiritual home inside the city of Sidney by those who lived there. By 2004, The Block had deteriorated dramatically; both residents and the police were known for their questionable behaviours and diplomacies. With heightened tension between both parties, a riot broke out on February 15th, after an Aboriginal teenager named Thomas ‘T.G.’ Hickey died following a police chase. It was reported that the boy was pursued whilst riding his bicycle, and this led to him being impaled on a 2.5 metre fence which caused penetrative injuries to the neck and chest. Onlookers claimed that a police car clipped Hickey’s bike, propelling him onto the fence. Afterwards, the police denied all such allegations, but admitted that they had located the wrong individual, even though there was an outstanding warrant for Hickey’s arrest. On the evening of the 15th a number of Aboriginal youths from Sydney gathered in the Redfern area, and when police arrived the scene turned violent. Various objects were thrown, including bottles, bricks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails. Wheelie bins from nearby houses were also loaded with paving slabs and bottles, and rolled out onto the street before the full scale riot broke out to provide ammunition for the impending attack. During the riot the train station was set alight briefly, although it suffered only superficial damage, and the fire brigade were forced to use their water hoses in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Over forty police officers were injured during the revolt, and a further eight were hospitalised. After the riots only 15 habitable homes remained. Many white colonial Australians apparently argued that the police were too timid in their suppression of the riot, for fear that they might be accused of racism; hence why so many were injured. One observer even went so far as to suggest that “they are worse than terrorists because of their savage behaviour and attitude towards white Australians. Aboriginals seem to believe the world owes them a living and they are out to collect”. In the aftermath, media across Sydney suggested that the Aboriginal leadership hailed the riot as a success. It was reported that 150 Aboriginal residents amassed the next day, in Pemulwuy Park, to hear their leader, Lyall Munro, urge further violence and destruction. Munro is alleged to have addressed residents of The Block using a megaphone, declaring that “the streets were taken by our young people and we are all proud”. Munro finished, allegedly, with the declaration: “if Palestinian kids can fight war tanks with sling shots, our kids can do the same”. Six years later, in September 2010, the remaining 74 residents of The Block were handed eviction notices and ordered to find new accommodation by the end of November; when the bulldozers were due to arrive. The local authorities claimed that the decision to gradually brick-up and demolish the ghetto transpired in wake of the continued heroin use and increasing levels of violence in the area. To replace the dilapidated neighbourhood, the AHC launched the Pemulwuy Project, which derives its name from a famous Aboriginal warrior, which set out to construct 62 new homes. Indigenous residents would be invited to return upon completion. Unfortunately, however, while the area was due to be fully redeveloped by 2013 it is now almost 2016 and no such plans have been fulfilled. Our Version of Events Having just arrived in Sydney, not quite sure where to go or what there was to see, myself and Ford Mayhem set off into some of the smaller suburbs surrounding the CBD. We were keen to see some of the less touristy scenes within the city. After a short train journey and several minutes aimless drifting, we arrived outside a dilapidated looking residential area. Form the outside, judging by the state of the buildings and the shit graff scrawled all over them, we guessed that what we’d found was likely just an empty derp – or an ‘abando’ as they apparently call them here. We weren’t far off, and our first explore was a little disappointing; although we were very conscious of Australia’s dark and deadly creatures, so our senses were quite heightened. This made it an awful lot more interesting – psychologically speaking. At the time though we were oblivious to the fact that the ghetto we’d found ourselves in was a notorious site of violence, and that its past was famous across Australia. Only after doing a little research did we discover what you’ve, hopefully, just read above. We didn’t hang about inside the buildings too long, given that there were many, many cobwebs. In the knowledge that Steve Irwin was killed by deadly Aussie wildlife (the man who’s had an anti-whaling vessel, a road, a wildlife reserve, a turtle and a snail named after him because he was a bit of a legend when it came to surviving close encounters with killer creatures), and without David Attenborough around to tell us what not to touch, we made a hasty exit. Thankfully, the only thing to challenge us to a battle was a mosquito. But we left, victorious. As for the explore itself, we’ve still not worked out what the building next-door to the residential houses was – it reminded me of something you’d find in the TV series, Misfits. Explored with Ford Mayhem. 1: The Remains of Eveleigh Street 2: The Aboriginal Flag 3: Inside one of the Ruined Houses 4: The Bathroom 5: The Downstairs Corridor and Front Door 6: Spiral Staircase 7: The Kitchen 8: Stair Shot 9: Upstairs 10: Misfits Scene 11: In the Hood 12: Upstairs 13: Large Guttering