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The below remarks are attributable to VCOSS CEO Emma King:
Public housing lockdowns are a dramatic move. But they are being done to protect tenants, and to save lives.
This is a public health decision, and we don’t quibble with that. The last thing we want is COVID ripping through these buildings, infecting tenants en masse.
But we need to make sure these lockdowns are done right, done proportionately and done with sensitivity.
If we get this wrong, the consequences will be horrific.
Some public housing tenants have fled war or family violence. Some are dealing with mental health challenges. Many don’t speak English as their first language. Many others work casual or insecure jobs.
This lockdown will scare many people, and trigger memories of past trauma.
Being told you cannot leave your house, or seeing police on your doorstep, can be quite confronting. Being cut off from outside support services and family networks will also be damaging for many people.
(This is to say nothing of now being on the frontline of a public health emergency.)
The key steps from here are making sure :
- Every tenant knows what’s going on,
- Every tenant understands why it’s happening, and that
- Every tenant is given the support they need.
That includes appropriate support for people with disabilities, chronic illnesses and mental health challenges (etc).
It’s also critical that relevant community organisations and support services are given access to these tenants.
- To arrange an interview please contact Ryan Sheales on 0418 127 153 or via email@example.com
- High-resolution photos of Emma King can be found in the VCOSS Media Hub
- Ms King is on Twitter as @EmmaKingVic