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Catholic Social Services Victoria responds to lockdown

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People unload food and provisions from the back of a ute which will be distributed by firefighters throughout a public housing tower in North Melbourne, Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Nine towers in Flemington and North Melbourne were locked down on Saturday in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, with 3000 residents unable to leave their apartments for any reason for at least five days. (AAP Image/James Ross)

Catholic Social Services Victoria is asking authorities to ‘provide a person-centred response in line with the Catholic tradition of upholding the dignity and preciousness of each person’ for the approximately 3,000 residents in the nine – and possibly now ten – public housing estate towers in Melbourne during the Victorian Government’s enforced COVID-19 lockdown.

“The Victorian Government has particular responsibility for these individuals and families who they have directed to be house-bound for at least five days,” CSSV said in a recent media statement.  “Their welfare is of key concern to us during this time.”

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A nurse tests a patient for COVID-19 in Australia PHOTO: CNS/Loren Elliott, Reuters

At least 53 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the public housing buildings in Flemington and North Melbourne. Cases are expected to rise.

Their welfare is of key concern to us during this time

The towers house some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable citizens with many who are on low incomes, living with a disability, or who are recent arrivals from war-torn countries.
There are also concerns about overcrowding in the blocks in the shared laundry facilities and dense living quarters.

The housing towers in Melbourne are densely populated such as in this picture PHOTO: PIxabay

The Victorian Government says it is promising to ensure everyone living in the towers gets food, medical assistance, medicine and drug and alcohol addiction support.
At least 500 police officers per shift have been tasked to guard the residents and ensure the buildings are in lockdown. All entry and exit points are monitored with CCTV cameras installed to monitor compliance.

CCTV monitoring PHOTO: pixabay

In light of such measures, the importance of the mental and physical well-being of people – especially in the winter season – is crucial. CSSV said in a statement issued this week that
“Catholic social service agencies will continue to cooperatively serve and assist residents at this time. We stand in readiness to work with Government and their designated agencies to provide a person-centred response in line with the Catholic tradition of upholding the dignity and preciousness of each person.”

A woman prays in a window opening overlooking a street in Milan, Italy, March 21, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. (CNS photo/Salvatore Laporta, Reuters)

CSSV said it supports the Victorian Government’s moves to help the residents – especially with the appointing of Tony Nicholson, former Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director and experienced social services member – to assist in the delicate situation.
“We appreciate that the Government has acknowledged the complexity of many of the situations of individuals, families and households who are residents of these towers.”

A number of Catholic Church social service agencies have served and been a part of the community in North Melbourne and Flemington for many years. Agency representatives have said they are intimately aware of the complex challenges facing those who live in, and have created a community around, the high-rise towers.

COVID stats from ABC https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-17/coronavirus-cases-data-reveals-how-covid-19-spreads-in-australia

Victoria is currently the epicentre of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia with daily cases on the rise.

Data of the Australia’s COVID-19 Growth Factor as of 7 July SCREENSHOT: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-10/coronavirus-data-australia-growth-factor-covid-19/12132478?nw=0

According to national media, Australia’s COVID-19 Growth Factor is at 1.11 as of 7 July – above the manageable growth factor of 1.0.  The border between New South Wales and Victoria has closed as a result.

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