Greenway in Milsons Point celebrates its 70th anniversary

4 April 2024

About 400 residents and dignitaries gathered in the manicured gardens at Greenway to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Milsons Point building.

Organised by the Greenway Tenants Group, the event was an opportunity to acknowledge the heritage of the building and to celebrate the wonderful sense of community its residents have built – and continue to build.

In 1954, Greenway was the largest apartment building in the Southern Hemisphere and the first State-government-owned high-rise social housing in Australia. Today, it is managed for Homes NSW by St George Community Housing and is currently home to 350 people, many of whom are living longer on average than other Australians.

Among its residents, there are 19 people who are aged over 90 and still living independently. The eldest resident is Shirley Briggs, who is 99.

Russia-born Galina Doroshina, 94, moved into Greenway in 2005. “When I first saw it, I didn’t like the building. When we approached it, I said, ‘is it a prison?’” Now she likes everything about it and describes where she lives as ‘a paradise’.

“I looked out the window and I realised we had a million-dollar view, out to the harbour.”

Photo: Rhett Wyman

NSW Housing Minister The Hon. Rose Jackson MLC was present for the occasion and said she wanted to see 70 more Greenways throughout Sydney.

“Thanks and love to the residents of Greenway. You make this place. It’s not just buildings. It’s not just bricks and mortar. It’s a living, breathing, growing place,” she said.

“We see how vibrant and successful Greenway is. We wish all our public housing was as fantastic and successful as this.

“This is something we need to see more of. There should be more opportunities to live in public housing everywhere in our city. It doesn’t matter if it’s the wealthiest communities – there should be opportunities for public housing to exist there.

“I look forward to 70 more years of Greenway, but I also look forward to 70 more Greenways across Sydney.”

Zoe Baker, Lord Mayor of North Sydney, spoke at the event about Greenway’s importance to the local area: “It’s a building that has become so recognisable and very much part of our local community,” she said. “When Greenway was brand new, back in 1954, there was a huge post-war waiting list for housing and here we are today … we find ourselves in a similar situation, with 57,000 people on the waiting list for housing in NSW.”

The tenacious work of the Greenway Tenants Group, led by president Bryce Gunn, was praised by Felicity Wilson, the NSW Member for North Shore. The group advocates strongly for residents and delivers vital community resources and assets such as the Greenway community centre, community bus, Men’s Shed and OzHarvest food deliveries.

Former NSW Member for North Shore (for 24 years) and former Health Minister, The Hon. Jillian Skinner, spoke too, musing that she had knocked on every one of the unit doors in Greenway during her significant time in politics.

St George Community Housing chief executive officer Scott Langford said Greenway was ahead of its time when it was built. He said that, 70 years on, workers are being increasingly locked out of affordable housing options throughout Sydney. “Great neighbourhoods are made by the people who call them home and the most vibrant places are home to people from all walks of life. Sadly, it is much harder to create a wonderful community like Greenway in Sydney today,” he said.

“We need new partnerships to build the scale of social and affordable housing required to make up for decades of underinvestment in diversity of housing.”

Entertainment at the event was provided by the Red River Dance Group from Riverwood and the swing band from local school, St Aloysius College.

Greenway turned 70 on Thursday 28 March.