Update on Ombudsman's investigation into public housing lockdownDate posted:
Ombudsman Deborah Glass has received nearly 150 complaints and submissions about the treatment of residents at 33 Alfred Street, North Melbourne, and other public housing towers during last month’s ‘hard’ lockdown.
“We are hearing very strong concerns about the lack of access people had to information, as well as to fresh air, exercise and medical supplies,” Ms Glass said.
“Even with Melbourne in Stage 4 lockdown, generally most people still have access to essential supplies, fresh air and exercise.
“It is important that we document and understand what happened and learn lessons from what occurred, so that in the future the human rights of public housing tenants are recognised as much as everyone else’s.”
Ms Glass said her investigation was focusing on the Alfred Street housing tower, which was placed in a form of lockdown for 14 days, looking at:
- how and why the lockdown happened
- the consequences for residents
- how the lockdown was managed in the days and weeks that followed - through a human rights framework guided by the (Vic).
To date, her investigation has received 89 complaints and 55 submissions from individuals and organisations, including via online discussions with affected residents, volunteers and community advocates.
The investigation is continuing to receive and analyse information and records from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Ombudsman staff are also meeting weekly with DHHS senior officials and continue to receive information about ongoing infection control and other preventive health measures across the inner-Melbourne public housing estates.
Ms Glass said her office would continue to accept submissions from anyone affected until Friday 28 August 2020.
People can make submissions by:
- calling 9613 6222 (between 10am-4pm Monday-Friday)
- contacting us via an interpreter on 131 450 (between 10am-4pm Monday-Friday)
Ms Glass thanked people and organisations who were assisting public housing residents in making submissions. Her investigation is accepting submissions in any language, and can arrange interpreters where needed.
Ms Glass is not available for further comment at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.