Saturday, November 27, 2021

‘Balance Act failed’: Ombudsman’s report into Victoria’s public housing lockdown

A report by the Victorian Ombudsman found the harsh restrictions imposed on Melbourne public housing residents in June 2020 violate residents’ “rights to humane treatment if they are deprived of liberty”.

Report (PDF) published on 4 August also details additional cases where Victorian officials violated the Victorian Human Rights Charter when implementing public health directives issued by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.

While the Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, found that detaining residents in the towers in June 2020 was a reasonable measure to prevent an outbreak of the CCP virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, it found that the urgency of the strict lockdown Was not based on “direct” health advice.

“In that case, the Balancing Act failed,” the report said, adding that residents’ right to humane treatment was “unreasonably limited” if they were denied liberty.

It comes as residents on a floor in the 20-story Flemington public housing were forced into a two-week lockdown after testing positive for the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus. Residents of the remaining 19 floors should be tested and isolated till negative results are received.

COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar told reporters on August 7 that the family had been shifted to a separate residence. He also confirmed that the state government would provide “food and welfare assistance to the community”.

However, in June 2020, Tower residents said they were left without medicine and vital supplies, and were served “bad” food.

Furthermore, the report said that the Ombudsman received calls from residents of the towers and concerned family members about how the lockdown unfolded, with many noting that the lockdown happened so quickly that “many residents knew nothing about it.” When police appeared in large numbers.”

The report also found that the deputy chief health officer was not given sufficient time to consider human rights before signing the detention instructions and did not advise the authorities that it was necessary to start the lockdown on that day, July 4. Was. The government also failed to apologize to the residents for these crimes.

However, the report noted that in 2021, the Victorian government had made some amendments to the health orders and included the advice of the Ombudsman to “give more powers to those detained to review and the conditions of their detention.” A notice should be issued immediately clarifying the same.”

“The government also agreed to work with residents of towers and multicultural communities to better help them make decisions about public housing,” the report said.

The Andrews government had previously made a point Feedback In a previous Ombudsman report published on December 17, 2020, in which it refuted claims made by the Ombudsman, saying that it has “always acted legally and within the applicable legislative framework,” regarding the lockdown of the North Melbourne Tower .

Other Rights Restricted

The Ombudsman Report published five other cases where sections of the Victoria Charter of Rights Act were violated during the state’s COVID-19 response.

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For example, in early 2021, a woman and her child were detained for five hours at Melbourne airport while they were assigned to a quarantine hotel.

The woman “Tamika” needed to use the toilet as she was getting on the bus, but the staff did not allow her to return to the airport and asked her to wait until she arrived at the hotel.

“When the bus arrived, Tamika noticed that there was no toilet on it,” the report said.

“Tamika tried to hold him till he reached the hotel, but could not. He found an empty water bottle and had to rest in it while the bus was leaving.”

The report acknowledged that during the pandemic, “people in quarantine are often detained by the state.”

“While it is important to manage the risks of infection, people should be treated humanely and with respect.”

“In response to our inquiries, the Department of Health and Human Services called Tamika about her complaint, and COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria provided a written response about her experience. Although the buses used in the quarantine program do not have bathrooms and stop is not allowed to prevent the risk of infection, people should be able to use the facilities at the airport before being transported.”

Other cases reported by the ombudsman include “abusive treatment” for a wheelchair user at a COVID testing site, financial loss to a couple due to loss of freedom of movement during border closures, New South Wales license to change a Includes refusal from authorities. Victorian for a Victorian resident who needed to cross the border for medical treatment, and a person who could not obtain an evacuation interview after going through the required days of self-isolation.

While the matters mentioned were resolved by the Victorian government following an investigation by the Ombudsman, the report states that these independent investigations “helped the public sector make better decisions.”

“It is not illegal to curtail fundamental rights and freedoms when there are compelling reasons to do so; human rights are inherently and indivisible by a consideration of human life,” Glass said.

David Southwick, Minister of Shadow Police and Crime Prevention, Said The Andrews government was guilty of having “no plan to rebuild the damaged relationship between the community and its government agencies and must return to common sense and compassion when implementing ongoing restrictions and lockdowns.”

“Over time Victorians have seen inconsistent and unfair enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions, which is tearing communities apart,” Southwick said in a statement.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFS), and COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria (CQV) have been reached for comment but did not respond at the time of publication.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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