- Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MPThe Premier
- Hon. Fred NileMember of the Legislative Council
- Hon. Anthony Roberts, MPMinister for Planning, Minister for Housing
- Hon. PRU Goward, MPMinister for Social Housing and Community Services
- Hon. Ray Williams, MPMinister for Disability Services and Multiculturalism
- Hon. Tanya Davies, MP.Minister for Mental Health, Aging and Women
Save Sirius: a rare architectural icon of inclusion & community
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Three Compelling Reasons:
1. Sirius was designed by the people for the people in recognition that community & civil society are vital to humanity. Sirius ensured that residents displaced by threatened demolition & subsequent commercialisation of The Rocks were able to maintain community. Indeed it created an environment that enhanced social relationship, harmony and reciprocity. It was a first in this kind of process and outcome.
2. Sirius is an accessible, inclusive complex able to cater right now for those who have the potential to be well supported by the National Disability Insurance Scheme but who have nowhere suitable to live. Sirius was designed and built to cater for the elderly and people with different levels of mobility and other impairments. It was designed to include people with disability in an integrative, valued way alongside families and other households. Demolishing Sirius would be a loss for those who recognise that those it was designed for - elderly and people with disability, have a valuable role to play in every community. Many are people with impairments and or long term residents, who are poorer than average, but who are holders of our social history and represent a diversity that Millers Point and Sydney and therefore Australia would be culturally poorer without. Loss of Sirius excludes many people with disability from living in this area. Demolishing Sirius would be an act of exclusion to vulnerable people, including people with disability.
3. The Sirius building is an iconic landmark. Sirius was established as part of an innovative locally driven movement ensuring managed development when massive overdevelopment threatened this historic precinct. This action created a unique heritage area now highly valued by locals and the 14 million tourists that visit each year, contributing over $400 million to the NSW economy. Demolishing it would also be a loss for those who recognise the role that Sydney and Australia played in starting a movement of ordinary people working together to save important and now cherished built and social environments around the world. Sirius would also be a loss for those who value architectural innovation, history and heritage. The design and development of Sirius broke new ground and is a now a rare example of a particular architectural style in Australia.
You can find out more about Sirius at SOS Save Our Sirius and in this short video.
Demolishing Sirius would be a loss not just for the residents and the community where it is situated but for all Australians who value real historical landmarks and culture over fabricated facades & reenactments.
Encourage the NSW Government to go with the recommendations of their own Heritage branch and list the Sirius Building on the State Heritage Register under the Heritage Act 1977. Heritage listing will help protect this important Australian icon from the heavy hand of big government and ruthless development. We need to protect all communities from those that seek to sell Australian icons and Crown land for short term cash to developers, foreign investors and speculators whose own interests trump preserving important Australian iconic buildings and precious social communities. Help save Sirius, sign now (comment if you can) and ask your friends to do the same.
- The Premier
Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MP
- Member of the Legislative Council
Hon. Fred Nile
- Minister for Planning, Minister for Housing
Hon. Anthony Roberts, MP
- Minister for Social Housing and Community Services
Hon. PRU Goward, MP
- Member for Sydney
Hon. Alex Greenwich, MP
- Minister for Disability Services and Multiculturalism
Hon. Ray Williams, MP
- Attorney General of New South Wales
Gabrielle Upton MP
- Minister for Mental Health, Aging and Women
Hon. Tanya Davies, MP.
I support the listing of the Sirius Building on the State Heritage Register as a building of state heritage significance because it:
a) is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural ... history;
b) has strong or special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural ... history;
d) has strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW for social, cultural or spiritual reasons;
e) has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural ... history.
The European history of Millers Point and The Rocks is largely that of tenants of the Maritime Services Board and their descendants, with ownership of the properties being passed to the state housing authority in the 1990s. The majority of public housing tenants live in the modest flats that were purpose built for maritime workers or in the Sirius apartments that were built when local residents and the Builders Labourers Federation saved The Rocks from high-rise development in the 1970s. In contrast to other inner Sydney areas and, against all odds, it has remained a close-knit community.
Indeed, the Sirius Building embodies a long struggle by a group of tenants to remain in their community. A central aspect of the proposed listing is the people living in it and their role in stopping the demolition of Millers Point and The Rocks almost forty years ago.
I agree with what is stated in the letter dated 15 July 2015 from the Director, Heritage Division, Office of Environment & Heritage, received by residents of the Sirius Building. That is that Sirius Building has state heritage significance:
... for its historical values as a major outcome of the Green Bans, a protest movement against the development of the Rocks and Millers Point area in the 1970s: The Sirius building was built to provide affordable public housing in its 79 apartments, for approximately 200 people potentially displaced by other developments in the area.
... for historical associations with the Green Bans of the 19780s, the Green Bans’ leader Jack Mundey as well as for its association with designer, Tao Gofers, a noted architect who pioneered a new modular building style in concrete with specific application to social housing in Australia.
... for its long and strong association with past and present residents of the Millers Point and The Rocks community. Many of The Rocks and Millers Point residents were the descendants of maritime workers who lived and worked in the area for generations. Sirius may also be of social significance to others in NSW who consider it an important achievement that the unique makeup of the Miller’s Point and The Rocks community has been preserved for so many generations.
The Sirius Building has been one of the great success stories of social housing in New South Wales. Its original residents of this building were firmly connected to the area before they moved in. They had fought alongside Nita McCrae, Jack Mundey and the Builders Labourers Federation with the world’s first Green Bans to save The Rocks from demolition at the hands of the then NSW Government. The Green Bans were lifted to allow Sirius to be built. Another reason for residents living happily together in Sirius is that individual units are well designed, and there is a mix of one, two, three and four-bedroom units to accommodate families, couples and single aged units. At the time it was revolutionary to combine different types of units in a single block of units, but the success of this approach was soon evident.
As further support of the criteria cited above for listing, I refer to Housing NSW’s own publication ‘Millers Point Oral History Project: Summary Report’, (April 2007, viewed on 18 August 2015 at http://www.housing.nsw.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/B4A06A4B-5976-4824-90E3-F67322B7B923/0/MillersPointOralHistoryProjectSummaryReport.pdf on page 6):
Millers Point … has a very integrated community who love living there and have a sense of belonging and allegiance to the place. … The residents have a rich reservoir of memories of living at the Point, going, in some cases, as far back as six generations. They were born, worked, lived and died in the houses at Millers Point. They also have a strong sense of history and heritage. It’s a community within a community where everyone knew each other through work and place of living.
This excerpt discusses Millers Point, but since its erection, the Sirius Building has been an integral part of this same community whose struggle continues to the present time with a decision of the NSW Government, through Housing NSW, to evict the whole suburb to make way for a totally different demographic of residents. The latter is evidenced in Lifestyle Guide on Millers Point targeting Sydney’s most affluent residents (viewed on 18 August 2015 at: http://www.thelifestyleguide.com.au/e-magazine/files/assets/basic-html/index.html#6), or a statement attributed to John McGrath that Millers Point real estate was about to explode and was his ‘top pick’ in the company’s annual report. (viewed on 18 August 2015 at: http://news.domain.com.au/domain/real-estate-news/millers-point-named-the-next-prestige-suburb-as-housing-selloff-delivers-record-results-20140912-10ewnj.html). One ponders that the real agenda at Millers Point is to free up housing stock around Barangaroo for gentrification and to create a Paris Quarter ... indeed, a touch of Montmartre! The suburb fronts the Headland Park and is sought after and a tour of Barangaroo Park shows why.
I strongly urge you to
a) list the Sirius Building on the State Heritage Register under the Heritage Act 1977.
b) maintain Sirius as social housing to ensure affordable housing options so elderly, people with disability and key workers are able to live in our inner city.
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Save Millers Point needs your help with “Save our Sirius, an architectural treasure and rare symbol of the triumph of little people over powerful lobby groups. . Sirius enables the continued inclusion and contribution of people with disability and elderly in their community.”. Join Save Millers Point and 2,896 supporters today.