Ombudsman: Tower lockdown violated human rights

One of the public housing towers in North Melbourne that was subject to a hard lockdown in July (ABC News/Simon Winter)

The Victorian Government has refused to apologise after the state ombudsman found the timing of the lockdown of Melbourne public housing towers in July violated residents’ human rights. Source: The Guardian.

The hard lockdowns – in which nine public housing towers were surrounded by police on July 4 and more than 3000 residents confined to their units for five days – has been the subject of an investigation by Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass.

The public housing towers are occupied by low-income, majority immigrant families.

The lockdown was lifted at eight of the nine towers after five days, but residents of the ninth tower had to complete a full 14 days of hard lockdown.

Ms Glass’ investigation found that the lockdowns had been warranted to protect residents from the rapid spread of COVID-19, but she said the immediate start to the detention had not been based on medical advice and had breached human rights rules.

Ms Glass said the rushed lockdown, which was implemented immediately after it was announced, was not “compatible with the residents’ human rights, including their right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty”.

Based on the evidence gathered by the investigation, Ms Glass said “the action appeared to be contrary to the law”.

The report recommended that the Government apologise to the tower residents and acknowledge “the impact of their immediate detention on their health and wellbeing”, but the Government has refused.

Housing Minister Richard Wynne said the Government would “make no apology for saving people’s lives”.


Melbourne public housing COVID lockdown violated human rights, Victoria's ombudsman finds (By Matilda Boseley,The Guardian)  

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