The Victorian Ombudsman investigation report into the detention and treatment of public housing residents arising from the COVID-19 “hard lockdown” in July 2020, exposes the government’s lack of respect for our multicultural communities.
“It is disgraceful that Labor failed to adequately assist Victoria’s multicultural community during the COVID-19 crisis”, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Neil Angus said.
As call for by the Ombudsman in her report, Daniel Andrews must apologise publicly to our multicultural communities for his atrocious actions.
“This report highlights the government’s inadequate planning surrounding the “hard lockdown” and its failure to consult with the local multicultural community leaders, that resulted in unnecessary fear and stress experienced by residents”, Mr Angus added.
The sudden “hard lockdown” of thousands of residents in the Melbourne Public Housing towers of North Melbourne and Flemington by Daniel Andrews left many of the vulnerable members of our multicultural communities without help.
The large and unexpected police presence at the towers caused stress and fear for many members of our multicultural communities living in the towers, especially our African community, many of whom have fled war-torn countries.
According to the findings of the report, the government’s intervention and lockdown proceeded without consultation with any local multicultural community leaders.
Labor’s communication with the residents did not commence until the third day of the intervention with many other residents not contacted at all.
Consultation with the multicultural communities by DHHS was “reactive and non-collaborative” leaving many residents unsure of what was happening.
According to the report, there were “significant delays in preparing and distributing” information to the vulnerable members of the community, with materials explaining the purpose of lockdown not being distributed until the fifth and sixth days of the intervention.
Victoria’s multicultural communities and the residents of the public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne have been bitterly let down during the COVID-19 crisis by this Labor Government. Daniel Andrews as Premier wears responsibility for that.
“Victoria’s multicultural communities and the residents of the public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne have been bitterly let down and Daniel Andrews as Premier wears responsibility for that.
“Not only must Daniel Andrews apologise to the affected communities, he must also implement all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations in full.”
In a statement issued by the state government, authorities have expressed their disappointment.
“We are disappointed that the comprehensive response provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, which carefully explained the lawfulness of the emergency response, has not been adequately considered and is attached only as an appendix to the final report”, the statement in part said.
“The report also fails to acknowledge that the Department has already actioned several of the Ombudsman’s recommendations relating to outbreak planning and preparedness, in addition to significant reform work to respond to any potential future outbreaks” it added.