July 05, 2020 |
The Federation of Community Legal Centres recognises the difficult position the Victorian Government has been placed in to address the spread of COVID-19 cases across Victoria and in particular in public housing estates across Flemington and North Melbourne.
This is a complex issue which requires a health-based response, not a law and order first response.
To ensure this situation is not unnecessarily inflamed, government needs to ensure a reduced visible police presence.
As a community, our priority needs to be to address this pandemic and to ensure it does not spread further throughout our state. However, the rights and social welfare of those people at the heart of this issue must be kept front of mind at all times.
We are pleased to see the government is engaging with relevant community leaders, including those from the Victorian Multicultural Commission and social welfare orgnisations including family violence, mental health and disability services, to address the specific needs of residents.
We are pleased to see the government has committed to providing financial assistance, including rent relief and hardship payments, as well as social support to public housing residents to help them get through this difficult period.
Many of the residents living in the public housing flats, those who now find themselves caught in the middle of this issue, have experienced extreme trauma. Some have fled war or family violence, some have battled or continue to battle mental or physical health issues.
Every one of these residents needs to be treated with the respect and dignity all Victorians deserve.
It is vital that during this time the people at the heart of this issue, the residents in these flats, continue to be given access to interpreters and social services.
This is a dramatic situation and tensions across the state are high due to the spread of this disease. Never have we seen members of our community placed in complete lockdown.
We recognise that this is an unprecedented response to a situation within our state but we also recognise that this is an unprecedented situation.
We need to get this response right. We need to carefully balance the control of COVID-19 with the broader safety, health and welfare of our community.
The Federation and its members will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds.
All comments can be attributed to Federation Director of Policy and Engagement, Shorna Moore.