The Mac Silva Centre was established in 1990 as a result of the great concern in the Aboriginal community of Redfern for the homeless Aboriginal people who lived in the Black Theatre.
Complaints were made by concerned citizens, the residents themselves, church groups and South Sydney Council about the terrible living conditions
As a result of continued efforts by certain members of the Aboriginal community, the Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA) co-ordinated the Department of Housing, ATSIC and Aboriginal Hostels (AHL) in order to provide alternative accommodation.
Six flats were provided for those of the residents who could live independently and three houses in Wellington Street, Waterloo, for those who required support. The three houses operate as the Mac Silva Centre which was incorporated under the Aboriginal Councils and Associations act, and is federally funded.
The residents occupied the centre in February 1991. There was an immediate and dramatic improvement and it is hoped that with the support of the workers and the community they will be motivated to self-rehabilitate.
A number of residents have moved to permanent accommodation. This is the aim, to encourage rehabilitation so that residents can become independent and eventually move into unsupported housing.
As singer in the band Black Lace Mac would always sing the song Put a candle in the window, the lyrics of which were ‘Put a candle in the window – I won’t be away too long and I’ll be coming back.’ It was thought this was a very apt song for the Mac Silva Centre, which opened in February1991. It was what the centre was all about, making a home for people and making them always feel welcome. This is why the logo for the centre contains the candle.
from The Mac Silva Centre an oral history project. TAFE Outreach. Sydney Institute of Technology. published in Darlinghurst c1994