Public Housing Lockdown: Public Statement

During this time when nine sites across three public housing estates have been completely locked down in two Melbourne suburbs for public health reasons, it is of vital importance that each one of the 3,000+ residents is treated with respect in regards to their inherent dignity. 

This decision of lockdown by Government has clearly been made in line with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and with the intention to benefit our public health — both the health of tenants of these buildings and the health of all of us in Victoria. 

We are grateful to those individuals, families and households now locked down in these specific public housing sites as directed by the Victorian Government. Their welfare is of key concern to us during this time. 

The Victorian Government has particular responsibility for these individuals and families who they have directed to be house-bound for at least five days and we are appreciative and acknowledge the work and recent announcements of supports that the Government are implementing, including the appointment of Tony Nicholson to assist with the response, who is known and respected in the social services sector. We appreciate that the Government has acknowledged the complexity of many of the situations of individuals, families and households who are residents of these towers. 

Catholic social service agencies have served and been a part of the community in North Melbourne and Flemington for many years and are intimately aware of the complex challenges and resilience of many of those who live in, and have created a community around these high-rise towers. 

Catholic social service agencies will continue to cooperatively serve and assist residents at this time. We stand in readiness to work with Government and their designated agencies to provide a person-centered response in line with the Catholic tradition of upholding the dignity and preciousness of each person. 

  • We call on the Government to ensure that residents are comprehensively informed about the plan after the five days of this lockdown are completed;
  • We ask that residents be fully supported with health and social services and material aide and supports required, and that all interactions with residents are based in an attitude of gratitude and acknowledgement of their difficult situation at this time for the common good of Victoria;
  • We ask that the Government fully utilise the expertise of social service and community organisations for Operation Benessere, particularly agencies and organisations with existing connections to the communities affected;
  • We also call for the Government to listen carefully to the residents and their needs. We ask that law enforcement is used with real discretion during this lockdown and that a community development approach is taken alongside this public health directive.

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