Course helps resident take lead of helping others in notorious tower

Sydney 2000

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how to stand up for yourself, how to be assertive without being aggressive, and a whole range of conflict-solving skills.”These are skills for life that everybody needs, but we’ve been able to put these in the context of social housing.”Ms Hazel said the course had “opened doors” for its participants and many had pursued other TAFE courses or taken up leadership positions within their communities.For Ms Dobrovits, that has meant joining neighbourhood advisory boards and attending local police meetings.”I’ve found my niche in life,” she said.”I was brought up on the North Shore, my dad has a huge house at Hornsby, but I love it [at McKell] because of the people. “I’m a voice for the people and we can see what we’re doing is helping a lot of the tenants.” I hit rock bottom,” she said.”I know what people are going through from what my own experiences in there.”Today, Ms Dobrovits is a leader and advocate for the residents living in what she calls “one of the toughest areas in Sydney”.There is “a lot of domestic violence in the building”, while many residents have drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues, Ms Dobrovits told 702 ABC Sydney.The McKell Towers was also the site where drug dealer Daniel McNulty was murdered in 2014 for which Harriet Wran was sentenced to jail for robbery in company and being an accessory to his murder.”After that happened, I found our tenants terrified,” Ms Dobrovits said.”So I decided to do something — I wanted to be a voice for my community and for my tower.”Following that incident Ms Dobrovits was elected the head of the residential committee and organises social events like poet’s corner, which sees volunteers cook food for locals as a way to pay off fines.She is also one of the first graduates from a new community leadership program for social housing residents developed by TAFE NSW and the City of Sydney.Teaching ‘skills for life’The pilot program is a two-day course that teaches leadership skills to social housing residents.Pat Hazel, one of the TAFE course teachers, said there had been a push to improve the “quality of life in some [City of Sydney] social housing”. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
She said the course was designed after consultation with Redlink outreach centre staff who worked in the building.”We’ve learnt about the issues that they’ve got — it could be barking dogs, it could be anti-social behaviour,” Ms Hazel said.”We teach people a range of skills; how to connect with other people because there’s a lot of isolation in these buildings, how to listen … Photo:
The McKell building in Redfern provides social housing for about 1,200 residents. When Charlotte Dobrovits moved into McKell Towers, the notorious social housing block in Redfern, she was at the lowest point in her life.”When I first moved in I hadn’t lived in a place like that, so I went on the alcohol for two years …

Amanda Hoh


November 02, 2016 13:51:31

Social housing resident Charlotte Dubrovits (left) with TAFE teacher Pat Hazel. (702 ABC Sydney: Amanda Hoh)
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