Ombudsman reports blockade of public housing in Victoria


Victorian Ombudsman reports that the strict restrictions imposed on Melbourne public housing residents in June 2020 violate the residents’ right to humanitarian treatment when deprived of their freedom. understood.

Report (pdfIt also elaborated on additional cases of violations of the Victorian Human Rights Charter when the Victorian authorities implemented public health directives issued by the Victorian Supreme Health Officer, published on August 4.

Deborah Glass of the Ombudsman believed that detaining residents in the tower in June 2020 was a reasonable way to contain the outbreak of the CCP virus that causes COVID-19 disease, but hard rockdown. It turns out that the immediacy of was not. Based on “direct” health advice.

“In that case, the act of balancing failed,” he added, adding that residents’ right to humanitarian treatment when deprived of their liberty was “unjustly restricted.”

This forced a two-week strict blockade after residents on the ground floor of a 20-story Flemington public housing were tested positive for a CCP virus, also known as the new coronavirus, in a family of eight. Because it was done. Residents on the remaining 19th floor should be tested and quarantined until negative results are obtained.

COVID-19 commander Yeron Weimar told reporters on August 7 that the family had been moved to another accommodation. He also confirmed that the state government would provide “food and welfare support to the community.”

However, in June 2020, Tower residents stated that they were provided with “spoiled” food without medicine or important supplies.

In addition, according to the report, the ombudsman received calls from tower residents and related families about how the blockade was unfolded, and the blockage was so swift that “many when numerous police appeared. The inhabitants knew nothing about it, “many pointed out.

The report also did not provide authorities with advice that the Deputy Secretary had not been given sufficient time to consider human rights before signing the detention order and that the blockade should begin on that day, July 4. I found that. The government also apologizes to the residents for these failed violations.

However, in 2021, the Victoria State Government made some amendments to the health order, “giving detainees greater jurisdiction and promptly issuing notices explaining the terms of detention. He pointed out that he adopted the advice of the ombudsman.

“The government has also agreed to work with towers and residents of multicultural communities to give them greater say in their decisions on public housing,” the report said.

Points previously pointed out by the Andrews government response In response to a previous ombudsman report published on December 17, 2020, the ombudsman argued that it “always acted legally and within the applicable legislative framework” regarding the blockade of the North Melbourne Tower. Did. ..

Other rights restrictions

The Ombudsman report published five other cases in which the Victorian Rights Charter section violated the state’s COVID-19 response.

For example, in early 2021, a woman and her child were detained at Melbourne Airport for five hours while being assigned to a quarantine hotel.

The woman “Tamika” had to use the toilet while walking towards the bus, but the staff did not allow her to return to the airport and told her to wait until she arrived at the hotel.

“When the bus arrived, Tamika saw no toilet,” the report said.

“Tamika tried to hug her until she arrived at the hotel, but she couldn’t. She had to find an empty water bottle and release herself in it while the bus was in motion.”

The report acknowledged that during the pandemic, “people in quarantine are often detained by the state.”

“Managing the risk of infection is important, but people must be treated humanely and with dignity.”

“In response to our inquiry, the Department of Health and Human Services called Tamika about her complaint, and COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria responded in writing about her experience. The baths used in the quarantine program are bathrooms. It is not allowed to stop to prevent the risk of infection, but people need to be able to use the airport facilities before they can be transported. “

Other cases reported by the ombudsman include “degrading treatment” for wheelchair users on the COVID test site, financial loss to couples due to loss of freedom of movement during border closure, and New South Wales license. One of the Victorians for Victorian residents who need to cross the border for treatment, and a man who failed to get a clearance interview after the required number of days of self-isolation.

The cases mentioned were resolved by the Victoria State Government following the Ombudsman investigation, but the report said these independent investigations helped “the public sector make better decisions.”

“If there is a compelling reason, it is not illegal to reduce basic rights and freedoms. Human rights are an essential and inseparable consideration of human life,” says Glass.

David Southwick, Minister of Police and Shadow of Crime Prevention, Said The Andrews government is “guilty of no plans to rebuild the damaged relationship between the community and his agency and must return common sense and compassion when implementing ongoing restrictions and blockades. not”.

“Victoria citizens have repeatedly seen inconsistent and unfair enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions and are tearing the community apart,” Southwick said in a statement.

The Family, Fair and Housing Authority (DFFS), and COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) were asked to comment, but did not respond at the time of issuance.

Henry Jom