CEO message: We’re concerned for the wellbeing of public housing residents in lockdown

Yesterday the Premier announced coronavirus Stage 3 restrictions would be extended to postcodes 3031 and 3051, as well as an immediate and total lockdown of nine public housing estates in Flemington and North Melbourne. We understand this decision has been made for the safety of local communities, to prevent the spread of coronavirus throughout densely-populated buildings which are home to some our most vulnerable community members.

However, we’re deeply concerned for the wellbeing of residents who are now unable to leave their homes for any reason, for at least the next five days. As many residents have English as an additional language, do they have access to the information they need about the lockdown, in a language and format they understand? Are essential services such as social workers and medical care available to them?

Read about some of the experiences of residents here, here, and here.

We support the statement released by Victorian Council of Social Services CEO Emma King yesterday, highlighting that “we need to make sure these lockdowns are done right, done proportionately and done with sensitivity. If we get this wrong, the consequences will be horrific.” (Read the full statement here).

With a history of over-policing in these suburbs, it’s only natural that many residents are reporting feeling anxious, afraid and intimidated by the strong police presence, and the lack of warning they received for this lockdown. Many have faced trauma in their lives, and the uncertainty and manner with which this lockdown has been introduced may bring up painful memories.

We are pleased to hear today’s announcement from the Premier for additional support for residents, including the waiving of rent for two weeks, a $1,500 hardship payment for those who are employed but cannot go to work, and a $750 hardship payment for households where there is no one employed. (More here)

We know that this is a scary and stressful time, and it is essential that the broader Victorian community does everything we can to ensure residents’ basic needs are met, first and foremost. We urge all of our supporters to contribute any way you can to the fund set up by the Victorian Trades Hall Council to provide support to residents here. You can also contribute directly to local community organisations whose work has a positive impact on the lives of young people, like The Venny.

We are calling for calm and compassion from the Victorian community, and we want the residents impacted by this lockdown to know that you are not alone in this. We are in contact with the Victorian Government, local services, community leaders and young people to discuss how CMY can best assist – not only now, but going forward.

We support the efforts of the Victorian Multicultural Commission in its coordinated approach to working with the relevant departments and service providers to ensure there is effective and sustained support for residents both remotely and on the ground. We will offer our support and resources to locally-based agencies and services where needed most, and will update you all as we know more.