Protecting the rights of public housing residents who remain in full lockdown
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission welcomes the Victorian Government’s decision to ease restrictions in eight out of the nine public housing buildings recently subjected to hard lock down. The past five days saw thousands of people living in extremely challenging circumstances. The resilience and resourcefulness of the residents and the community that rallied to support them has been remarkable.
10 July 2020
For residents of 33 Alfred Street, North Melbourne, who will continue to live under full lockdown, this is not over. It’s important to remember that while their ability to come and go as they wish has been removed, the government must continue to facilitate the protection of all the other human rights that they continue to enjoy. Our factsheet Your rights in full lockdown outlines these rights and has been shared both with residents and duty holders, including Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The ongoing full lockdown at 33 Alfred Street must be managed fairly and flexibly to take particular care of people’s individual circumstances and potential vulnerabilities – whether it be disability, mental illness, dependency on drugs and alcohol, or risk of family violence. It must be done with consideration of the needs of Aboriginal people and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Over the last five days, we have been working closely with community legal centres and other community groups and government agencies to monitor the human rights situation for people in full lockdown. From those reports and conversations, we know that people have been struggling to get the medical and disability supports that they need, and to leave their apartments for physical and mental health reasons.
For those who will remain under full lockdown, the government must move quickly to establish a clear, accessible and efficient process for people to receive the medical care and support services they need, including the ability to leave their apartments for that care, as well as to be able to access sufficient fresh air and exercise to support good physical and mental health.
With the easing of restrictions, we also look forward to a scaling back of the police presence at these estates. The challenge that the residents of the public housing estates face is primarily a public health issue. As they transition to Stage 3 restrictions, they need not be subjected to a greater level of police enforcement than any other resident living under Stage 3 restrictions.
We encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to continue to engage deeply and work alongside the local communities at the housing estates, who have contributed greatly to the relief and advocacy efforts over the last five days.
We will continue to work with community legal centres, community organisations and government agencies to monitor the human rights situation of those under full lockdown.
If you’ve been affected by the lockdown and have concerns or questions about the impact on your human rights, contact us.