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