Investigation into the detention and treatment of public housing residents arising from a COVID-19 ‘hard lockdown’ in July 2020

COVID-19 Pandemics Disease management Human rights Public health Victoria

On 4 July 2020 about 3,000 residents of nine inner-Melbourne public housing towers were detained by the State. They received no advance notice or explanation of a direction to stay in their often-crowded high-rise homes without outside space.

Australia’s second largest city of over 5 million people was teetering on the edge of the COVID-19 second wave. ‘Stay at home’ orders had been reimposed three days earlier on ten Melbourne postcodes. But health officials were seriously concerned about an outbreak linked to the network of public housing towers – there was a ‘risk of exponential spread’.

The Victorian Ombudsman has recommended that the Victorian government apologise publicly to those detained at the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates for harm and distress caused by the immediacy of their lockdown. This would mark an important step in restoring community trust and affirm our collective commitment to protecting human rights.

Publication Details
License type:
Access Rights Type: