Kevin Gill says the Stuart Flats have become a ghetto. Photo: Elesa Lee
The former head of the Inner South Community Council, Kevin Gill, has recounted his harrowing year living in the ''ghetto'' of Stuart Flats in the 1990s, and has called for the complex to be sold and the proceeds used to spread tenants across the city in new public housing.
The Griffith public housing estate is under the spotlight after a shot was fired through a window on Wednesday, the latest in a series of incidents at the complex in recent years.
Mr Gill was the inaugural president of the Inner South Community Council, which covers Griffith, and also lived in the estate for a year after serious heart surgery in the 1990s.
He said alcoholism, violence and drug use had become rife there.
Attempted break-ins to his flat were almost a nightly occurrence, Mr Gill said, and dirty needles were constantly found around the estate.
That was a marked difference to the ''prestigious'' feel of the complex in the 1960s.
''It had become a ghetto,'' Mr Gill said.
''As social housing, or government housing, got tighter and tighter, more and more people were put in these places who had degrees of social disorientation.
''It's not a place for kids, older people feel intimidated, I'm not certain if that's still the case today, but I suspect that's the case.''
The government is gradually redeveloping the estates, but any real progress is likely to be years away.
That process is designed to break up the estates, and distribute public housing around the suburbs.
Mr Gill described public housing estates as a failed social experiment.
He urged the government to sell the Stuart Flats, and use the substantial profits to construct new public housing and spread tenants through the city.
''It's been a problem for a long time, and I think the answer to those sorts of places is to spread people out in the wider community,'' Mr Gill said.
He said the issue of the flats was routinely talked about, but never formally raised, at the Inner South Community Council, which he left as president late last year.