On 25 May 2018, the NSW Government called for ‘Expressions of Interest to purchase the Sirius building in The Rocks’.
Four years earlier, on 17 March 2014 Minister Pru Goward announced the sale of Sirius as part of the sale of government assets that would follow the displacement of all public housing residents living in Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks.
In December 2017, one resident remained living in Sirius. Myra Demetriou – 92 years old, blind, and still campaigning for social housing in the city – crossed paths with Minister Pru Goward on the day the minister made her first recorded visit to Sirius. Minister Goward was there to announce the beginning of the Sirius sales process.
Myra asked Minister Pru Goward whether her government wanted to make Sydney the only major city in the world without social housing. The Minister could not answer her and would not meet her or the Save Our Sirius Foundation to discuss solutions for Sirius.
Within a few weeks it appeared the sale process had stalled, cyclone-wire fencing and concrete barricades were erected around Sirius and the draft State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for Sirius was found to be misleading and incorrect.
Myra has now moved from Sirius but continues to campaign for social housing.
The government has reviewed the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for Sirius but has not released the revised SEPP. It advises the revised SEPP will be available around the time Expressions of Interest close.
DISPLACEMENT OF MILLERS POINT RESIDENTS 2014–18
The old Millers Point community, which includes the residents of Sirius, is being ‘relocated’. The homes that people have lived in for decades, or for generations, are being sold by the government, but many of those moving into these properties support the campaign to save those who are being forced out. There is a lot happening in Millers Point. This site presents stories from Millers Point and its residents.
For example, Myra has lived here for almost sixty years and currently she is one of the few remaining residents of Sirius. Before Sirius, Myra lived in Trinity Avenue where she describes arriving in 1970.
When Gabrielle Upton was the Housing Minister Myra had a conversation with her at the NSW Parliament. In front of several hundred people, Minister Upton promised to meet Myra and a few of her neighbours, but Ms Upton became the Attorney General and the meetings never took place. Other members of the community have since met Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard, who came to morning tea at Flo’s home (along with local member Alex Greenwich and Lord Mayor Clover Moore); and Mary Vo met Brad Hazzard at her place when members of the community were escorting him on an inspection of the workers’ flats in Windmill Street. Publicly, both Brad Hazzard and Mike Baird have indicated people with compelling reasons to stay in Millers Point will be allowed to do so, but in the meantime there is no softening in the approach of the Relocation Team whose only task has been to move people out of Millers Point. So successful has been the Relocation Team that many from the team have transferred on to do a similar task to relocate the next community from properties elsewhere the government wants to sell, and one result of this is that the team seem to be working even harder to move people out of Millers Point, and some of their tactics are a shameful reflection on them and this government.
In December 2015 the government offered to retain 28 flats for public housing tenants who wish to stay in Millers Point. The community welcomed this offer and some units have been allocated to local residents.
The 79 units of the Sirius building in Cumberland Street, The Rocks, has been home to a significant portion of the community since it was opened in 1980. There has been a campaign to save Sirius and its residents since the government announced plans to sell it as part of the Millers Point sell-off in March 2014. This campaign for Sirius grew stronger in 2016 and in August a dedicated SAVE OUR SIRIUS website was launched.
The outlook for Sirius and its residents is dire, but the campaign to save it continues to gather momentum.
Keep in touch with the Save Our Sirius Campaign:
- website: www.saveoursirius.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/saveoursirius
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/saveoursirius
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/savemillerspoint
THE SIRIUS CAMPAIGN – SAVE OUR SIRIUS
In December 2015 the Sirius apartments and their residents were under severe threat. The National Trust nominated Sirius to be listed on the State Heritage Register, but in August 2016 Mark Speakman, Minister for the Environment announced he was rejecting the advice of the NSW Heritage Council. The residents have been told the building is to be sold and replaced by luxury apartments, and they must leave in the next few months.
Sirius is a fine and rare example of the Brutalist style of architecture in Australia. It demonstrates Brutalism’s objective of ethical design based on social concerns as well as its focus on the truthful expression of materials, function and structure.
The Sirius building was designed by Theo (Tao) Gofers in the late 1970s for the Housing Commission, purpose built for social housing for families and older people, with level security lift access and built-in distress alarms. Its design includes public spaces that encourage interaction between residents. Its entrances, corridors and courtyards, and its rooftop gardens and communal rooms all encourage people to interact with one another. A combination of private and public spaces and a mix of different age groups have helped the residents of Sirius to form a strong and successful public housing community.
Sirius was built in response to community opposition to Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority plans to demolish historic buildings along the western side of Circular Quay in order to build high-rise office towers. The community was supported by the 1970s Green Bans. The building was listed by the National Trust in 2014 for its architectural and social significance.
Sirius has a long and strong association with past and present residents of the Millers Point and The Rocks community, including descendants of maritime workers.
FRIENDS OF MILLERS POINT
The Friends of Millers Point is a coalition of public figures, artists, art organisations, educators, social scientists, church and community leaders, business owners, residents, politicians (local, state and federal) and others that support the community of Millers Point.
Our patrons include Anthony Albanese, Eva Cox, Jack Mundey, Reg Mombassa, and Michael Kendrick.
The aims of the Friends of Millers Point are to:
- support for the community of Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks.
- oppose the forced relocation of residents and the destruction of their community.
- make others aware of the effects of this relocation process on residents, including their loss of identity, greater isolation and increased vulnerability.
Convenor: Kelli Haynes, 0400924130
Media: John Dunn, [email protected], 02 9251 8650
- Launched in August 2016 is a dedicated SAVE OUR SIRIUS website. Go to this site to see the latest actions and the crowdfunding campaign that will challenge the government’s decision to demolish Sirius.
- SOS Save our Sirius exhibition and open house on 2 November 2014. SOS lights have been shining from the top floor of Sirius from 1 November 2014 for almost two years. They were turned off while Minister Brad Hazzard and the NSW Cabinet thought about saving the Millers Point community. Other sets of SOS lights shone from many other locations in The Rocks, Dawes Point and Millers Point before being taken down by NSW Housing and their security officers. In December 2015 the SOS lights were turned on once more.
- Legendary Green Bans campaigner Jack Mundey joined Pat Fiske when she presented her award-winning film Rocking the Foundations at the Abraham Mott Hall on 6 December. Other documentary filmmakers Helen Barrow and Blue Lucine joined Pat Fiske after the film for a Q&A session.
- Blue Lucine, Helen Barrow and Tom Zubrycki presented a preview of their documentary Forced Out to politicians and residents at the NSW Parliament on the anniversary of the announcement to ‘relocate’ the entire community.
- On semi-permanent exhibition are a series of snapshots of local residents, with photographs of people above stories about what community means to them and how they are dealing with the threat of relocation. Our residents include some of the most vulnerable people in our society as well as people who can trace their own history in Millers Point back through five, six and more generations to the earliest period of European settlement in Australia. This is a unique community with a compelling story to tell. This street-front exhibition is in the streets of Millers Point, with a focus on Argyle Place and Lower Fort Street. For those unable to visit the exhibition, many of the snapshots are also reproduced on this site, especially in the People section. Above are a couple of photos of these snapshots in Argyle Place.
- Saving the stories of the people of Millers Point, as well as the people themselves, we hope will be a focus of the Friends, and we hope to talk about this with everyone from the Barangaroo Delivery Authority to the Sydney Writers Festival, Vivid and the Sydney Festival. Special editions of the Millers Point Times have been distributed to visitors during the Sydney Writers Festival, Vivid and performances of Battle of Waterloo at the Wharf Theatre.
- Below are links to four petitions that introduced members of the Millers Point community to members of the NSW Government. These petitions are no longer active.
This site and the linked Facebook page tell the stories of the people of Millers Point and record the campaign to save the community. We believe the best chance for the survival of this community is for others to read and share these stories. Individual stories are in the People section of this site; individuals strongly identify with the streets in which they live, which is the focus of the Place section; on the home page is a line of dates that link to stories about the area through time; and for the latest in what is happening there is the News section.
This page is being maintained as a record of the Millers Point Spring Picnic of 2014 which was organised by a group that became the Friends of Millers Point, plus members of the Working Party. It has links to other Spring Picnic pages on this site.