Material from the Gary Foley Collection

Redfern reforms rushed through

Herald Sun
17 July 2004

POLICE numbers in Redfern will be boosted and inexperienced officers banned from the area command as part of a NSW government strategy to restore safety in the inner Sydney suburb.

The Government rushed out the plan yesterday -- before reports from the NSW Coroner and a parliamentary inquiry -- in an effort to stave off industrial action by local police.

The NSW Government admitted serious mistakes in the treatment of the Aboriginal community in inner-city Sydney. The details are in the government submission to the NSW parliamentary inquiry into Redfern and Waterloo.

The inquiry was prompted by the Redfern race riot in February.

The rioters claimed police involvement in the death of 17-year-old local Thomas "TJ" Hickey, who was impaled on a fence in nearby Waterloo.

The Herald Sun has obtained the government submission to a NSW parliamentary inquiry, which warns that forced changes may be needed to reform Redfern. Altogether, 56 additional officers will be stationed at a new $6 million police centre, though the vast bulk of these will come from other local area commands.

Key to the staffing boost is a 12-month freeze on probationary constables being posted to the trouble-spot.

Police Minister John Watkins admitted for the first time yesterday that there were not enough experienced police there.

Redfern police also will get more riot gear and a 24-hour on- call riot squad. There will also be more cultural awareness training and more liaison between police and the community.

The strategy was released yesterday in an effort to appease Redfern officers, who are meeting on Monday to consider industrial action.

It came just hours before the expected delivery of the coroner's report on TJ's death -- now not due until August 27 -- and two weeks before the first report of the Upper House inquiry into Redfern and Waterloo.