Daniel Andrews’ government breached human rights laws by sending two Melbourne public housing towers into a brutal lockdown without warning
- Obudsman has determined lockdown in towers was no based on health advice
- The lockdown started immediately with residents unable to stock up on supplies
- Around 3,000 residents were locked down across nine public housing towers
- Most residents were locked down for five days but one tower was for two weeks
The Victorian government breached human rights laws by locking down Melbourne public housing residents with no notice and should apologise.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass has determined the timing of the hard lockdown of North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers in early July was not based on direct health advice.
In the report tabled in Victorian parliament on Thursday, the Ombudsman said her investigation found senior health officials agreed on the morning of July 4 that the towers should be locked down to control a COVID-19 cluster.
They anticipated a next day start to allow planning for food supplies and other logistics but Premier Daniel Andrews announced it would start immediately at a 4pm press conference
The Victorian government breached human rights laws by locking down Melbourne public housing residents with no notice
Ombudsman Deborah Glass has determined the timing of the hard lockdown of North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers in early July was not based on direct health advice. Pictured: Police enforce a lockdown at public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington in July
Police guard the entry of 130 Racecourse Road in Flemington during the lockdown
She traced the decision to a Crisis Council of Cabinet meeting just over two hours earlier, although was denied access to documents under privilege.
‘Many residents knew nothing of the lockdown or the reason for it when large numbers of police appeared on their estate that afternoon,’ Ms Glass said.
‘We heard that initially there was chaos. Some people were without food and medicines.
‘At the tower at 33 Alfred St, the focus of the investigation, residents waited more than a week to be allowed outside under supervision for fresh air.
Public housing blocks in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne, where COVID-19 outbreaks were recorded, were shut down in July
About 3000 residents from nine public housing estates were prevented from leaving their homes for any reason as Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus took off (pictured towers in Flemington)
‘Since March, restrictions on movement both broad and specific have been issued many times in Victoria, but never before or since without warning.’
About 3000 residents from nine public housing estates were prevented from leaving their homes for any reason as Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus took off.
No notice was given before police were sent in to guard the towers in a bid to control the outbreak.
While eight of the towers reverted to the city’s then-stage three restrictions after five days, residents of Alfred Street in North Melbourne were kept in hard lockdown for a full fortnight.
Ms Glass said she received nearly 150 complaints about the treatment of residents from that tower.
She has recommended the state government apologise to the tower residents and acknowledge the impact of their immediate detention on their health and wellbeing.
Two residents at 130 Racecourse Road are seen peering out of their window during the hard lockdown in July
A resident is seen looking through their window after being ordered to stay inside