Material from the Gary Foley Collection

Redfern apartment marketer spruiks ‘Aboriginal exit’

By Patricia karvelis
10th December, 2014

A COMPANY spruiking “Luxurious apartments for sale in Redfern” claimed Aboriginal people have “moved out” of the inner-­Sydney suburb in order to lure buyers.

Great Fortune Investments’ advertising for the Dei Cota apartments has outraged Aboriginal leaders including Warren Mundine and Mick Gooda, who warned that the treatment of indig­enous people in the area ­affected social cohesion.

The company website stated: “Dei Cota has good rental return and convenient location. The Aboriginals have already moved out, now Redfern is the last virgin suburb close to city, it will have great potential for the capital growth in the near future.”

The company removed the ­reference yesterday after being approached by The Australian.

The building has been developed by Deicorp, a private company owned by developer Fouad Deiri. DeiCorp has also been engaged by the Aboriginal Housing Co for its Pemulwuy Project, a $70 million redevelopment of the nearby area known as The Block.

DeiCorp is set to plough capital into student housing in that project, although construction of a planned 62 units of affordable housing for Aboriginal people in the scheme is yet to begin.

Great Fortune Investments is one of several firms marketing at Dei Cota, selling a variety of new developments in Sydney to Chinese and Asian buyers.

Mr Deiri later called The Australian to say that Great Fortune Investments had made a mistake. “It was just not worded correctly by GFI. They were trying to make comment about the relocation of The Block and it hadn’t been worded correctly,” he said.

“The Chinese have a funny way of expressing themselves where they use their words where they are not trying to be offensive, but they do offend people.”

Great Fortune Investments and DeiCorp’s registered addres­ses are at the Dei Cota complex, ­although they operate from dif­ferent suites in the building.

An Australia-based agent who assisted in marketing the units told The Australian that Great Fortune Investments was a group employed by DeiCorp to market them “to local and international Chinese investors … I don’t know of any indigenous buyers who bought any of the apartments, and they sold out”.

Mr Deiri said he had contacted Aboriginal leaders to “explain” there was no racism “intended”.

Mr Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, said he was sickened by the advertising, and he challenged the company to meet with Aboriginal locals. “I’m just outraged a company would use the removal of Aboriginal people from a suburb as a promotion to sell their properties in that same suburb,” Mr Gooda said.

Mr Mundine, the head of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, said Redfern had always been an indigenous suburb and that history should be honoured, not trashed. “I find it ­totally bizarre and outrageous — here we have Redfern, such a symbolic centre for indigenous people — that such a crazy comment could be made to sell apartments.”

Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Nathan Moran said he was gobsmacked. “This requires some explanation at time when we are led to believe that DeiCorp is going to be the developer of The Block,” he said. “The AHC has every right to develop that land, but I think its important to review whether DeiCorp is the appropriate builders.

Aboriginal elder Les Poletti has lived in Redfern for more than 50 years. “When we were all evicted from the place, we were told by the company it was going to be built for Aboriginal housing and we’d get the first OK to get back in there … They’re trying to pretty up that area and not have any Aboriginal people there.”