The Block Urban Aborigines 1973 by Syd Shelton
The Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) was formed in 1973 and was based on the Block. (The Block is bounded by Lawson Street, Vine Street, Louis Street and Eveleigh Street.) A group of campaigners supported by the Builders Labourers Federation lobbied the Whitlam government to transfer ownership of The Block in Redfern to the Aboriginal housing Company. The grant facilitated by Whitlam allowed the AHC to purchase and restore a group of six terrace houses. This is claimed to be the first instance of urban land rights in Australia. The AHC’s purchased all 68 houses on The Block which were renovated and rented by Koori people for Koori people. The plan was opposed by 226 residents of South Sydney who signed a petition, ‘We the undersigned residents of South Sydney vociferously protest, object and condemn the establishment of the ghetto in Louis and Caroline Streets by the Aboriginals who have squatted in these properties … we want the Aboriginal ghetto stopped now – for if allowed to continue it will spread like the plague throughout the entire South Sydney area.’ This group was called the South Sydney Residents Protection Movement. Years of woful underfunding, racism and police harassment have ensured that 'The Block' has continued to be a site of struggle and activism.