Redfern, New South Wales

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Redfern is an inner-city suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is about 3 km south of the Sydney central business district (CBD). The population of the suburb spans a broad spectrum of socioeconomic characters. This may be, in part, due to the geography of the suburb — long, thin, and centrally-located. To the north of Redfern lies the more affluent suburb of Surry Hills, Darlington lies to the west, Moore Park to the east and Waterloo to the south.

The area in the immediate vicinity of Redfern station, known as "The Block", is home to a relatively socially-disadvantaged community. Eveleigh St in particular, the Eastern edge of the Block, to the north of Redfern station, is known for its community of Australian Aborigines. In 2004 much of the housing was largely demolished but it is still an area around which much of the Aboriginal population congregates. The crime rate around Eveleigh St and inside the station itself is, if not supported by statistics then by reputation, one of the highest in Sydney. East Redfern is becoming increasingly gentrified.

Redfern is accessible by CityRail trains, one station away from the city, with Redfern station on the western edge of the suburb, adjacent to the Block. Redfern station is the closest CityRail station to the main campus of the University of Sydney located across Camperdown and Darlington. Thus a near-constant stream of commuters, mostly students, flows from Redfern station along the south side of Lawson St towards the university in the morning and back towards the station approximately every hour in the afternoon. The north side of Lawson St, which borders the block, is largely untrafficked.


February 2004 riots

A riot occurred on February 14, 2004 at the end of Eveleigh Street outside Redfern station sparked by the death of teenager Thomas 'TJ' Hickey. The teenager, riding home on his bicycle from his girlfriend's house, was allegedly chased by a police vehicle (the police denied that they were present - a subsequent inquest found that they were following Hickey, but that this had not caused the accident) and subsequently impaled on a fence. Members of his family were then reported to have started grieving for the child around Eveleigh Street with a crowd gathering commiserating with the family. Fliers were distributed blaming police for the death. The police closed the Eveleigh Street entrance to the Redfern train station but youths in the crowd had turned violent and begun to throw bricks and bottles. This violence then escalated into a full-scale riot.

There is some evidence to suggest that the riot was in fact pre-arranged by drug-dealers in the area, in retaliation for earlier raids.

A memorial service was held on February 19, 2004, in Redfern, and in Walgett, New South Wales (Hickey's hometown), on February 22, 2004.

The riots have sparked fresh debate into the welfare of Australian Aborigines and the response of the police to those living in the Redfern area. Redfern police have however called for greater police numbers to quash what was called "civil disobedience", which may further inflame Aboriginal leaders.

Immigrants and international students have been told not to stay at Redfern alone since 1996, for the sake of their personal safety.

Name origin and usage

The suburb is named after emancipist and surgeon William Redfern. He had been granted 100 acres (400,000 m²) of land in this area in 1817 by Lachlan Macquarie.

In Sydney, the colloquial term "Get Off at Redfern" means practising Coitus interruptus; it stems from the fact that the Redfern Railway Station is immediately before the Central Railway Station. (See Cityrail.)


Redfern is now subject to considerable redevelopment plans by the state government in an effort to increase the population and end the considerable concentration of poverty existing in the suburb and neighbouring Waterloo - see Redfern-Eveleigh-Darlington.

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