Independent inquiry needed to prevent marginalised communities from being locked up again


As support for an inquiry into the state government’s management of the public housing lockdowns continues to grow across party lines, the Victorian Greens have said it is necessary to avoid the same mistakes being made again.

Last week Adam Bandt MP, Ellen Sandell MP and Cr Rohan Leppert wrote a letter to Premier Andrews calling for an independent inquiry into the management of the ‘hard lockdown’ of the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing towers.

And today, Labor backbencher Mark Gepp has echoed these calls in a letter to his caucus colleagues.

Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said that public housing residents were locked up without access to food, medicine or other essential supplies, and that their friends and families were prevented (by Victoria Police, SES and DHHS) from providing these supplies.

She added that an inquiry was needed to understand how this was allowed to happen, to ensure it didn't happen again.

Due to the disorganised and haphazard process implemented during the lockdowns, many residents were left without food, medicine or information, while being confined in prison-like conditions.

A mum was prevented from seeing her sick newborn baby in intensive care in hospital for five days, an elderly woman who relied on care workers to cook for her was left without food and information for days, and a woman had to re-use insulin needles for her diabetic six-year-old.

The Greens also want the inquiry to look into why the government didn't provide translated COVID-19 information, hand sanitiser and extra cleaning in public housing to prevent outbreaks, as requested by the Greens and the community early in the pandemic. 

Quotes attributable to Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

"We need an independent inquiry into how 3,000 people were left without essential food and medicine for days, and given no information about when these supplies would arrive.

"We need to understand how the government prevented a mum from seeing her sick newborn in intensive care for five days, how an elderly woman was left without food and how a mum was denied access to clean needles for her diabetic six-year-old.

"Sadly, successive governments have neglected public housing and the families who live in these towers for too long. We don't question the health rationale for the lockdown but we want the government to learn from the past week and ensure that marginalised communities are treated with respect and dignity just like other Victorians."