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Ombudsman finds Melbourne’s public housing lockdown breached human rights

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Article image for Ombudsman finds Melbourne’s public housing lockdown breached human rights

The immediate harsh lockdown imposed on about 3000 public housing tower residents in July was a breach of human rights law, the Victorian Ombudsman has found.

In a scathing report, Ombudman Deborah Glass has recommended the state government publicly apologise to the residents of the Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates for the hard lockdown.

“The rushed lockdown was not compatible with the residents’ human rights, including their right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty,” Ms Glass said in the report.

“In my opinion the detention of residents on 4 July 2020 appears to have been contrary to law,” she said.

The investigation suggests senior officials agreed to a next-day start of the hard lockdown, giving residents time to prepare, but the towers were locked down immediately.

The report reveals immediate lockdown was not in line with the health advice, with Deputy Chief Health Officer at the time, Annaliese van Diemen, stating she “didn’t advise that for infection control purposes it needed to happen instantaneously”.

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