The area in Redfern known as The Block, sits on about 8000 square metres on a rise overlooking Sydney's CBD. Lived in by generations of Aboriginal residents and desired by developers, its future will be both a test of governmental response to Aboriginal needs and urban planning in Sydney. The speakers on the panel bring three distinct perspectives to the issues surrounding The Block.
Bill Simon, Redfern based pastor and author of the recently published Back on the Block: Bill Simon's Story, brings his understanding of the day to day realities of this community and the community's responses to the social challenges faced. Mick Mundine, as chair of the Redfern Aboriginal Housing Company discusses the political realities which have shaped The Block, and threaten its future. Elizabeth Farrelly, writer and architect, author of Glenn Murcutt; Three Houses, and Blubberland, has written on how planning and design politics impact on The Block and moderates the discussion.
Elizabeth Farrelly is a former architect who writes a column for The Sydney Morning Herald, generally focusing on urban affairs. She has been the recipient of writing awards including the Paris-based CICA award for architectural criticism, the Adrian Ashton Award, the Marion Mahoney Award and the Pascall Prize for criticism.
Among her books are Three Houses and Blubberland: The Dangers of Happiness, which was longlisted a 2008 Walkley Award for Nonfiction.
Mick Mundine has been heavily involved in the Redfern community since moving to the city in the early 1970s.
A former Redfern All Black footy player, he began his career at the Aboriginal Housing Company as a painter and then foreman, before becoming CEO.
Bill Simon was taken from his mother when he was a boy, and raised in the notorious Kinchela Boys home. As a young man his criminal behaviour and self-abuse led him to be imprisoned several times.
He credits his conversion to Christianity with saving his life, and is now working on the Block to try and help other indigenous people live productive and happy lives.