Two mothers have accused Victoria Police of ‘harassing’ them by trying to enforce lockdown rules they claim they weren’t even breaking.
Mum Jodee and her friend were confronted by two police officers, one male and one female, at Lilydale Lakes Park in northeast Melbourne at 2:17pm on Tuesday.
The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, was approached by the officers after she let her two children, both aged under five, play in a playground, which she said had no signage to indicate it was closed.
It is currently illegal to use playgrounds and skate parks in Melbourne, and people can be fined up to $1,652 if they fail to comply.
In an argument filmed by the angry mums, they even present a laminated copy of Victoria’s Human Rights Act to the unimpressed officers.
Jodee and her friend (pictured left with her daughter) were confronted by two police officers (pictured right), one male and one female, at Lilydale Lakes Park in northeast Melbourne at 2:17pm on Tuesday
The row began when the officers asked for the mother’s details, but Jodee’s friend refused, prompting the male officer to reportedly say: ‘If you don’t give me your details, how about I arrest you in front of your children?’
Terrified, the mother texted Jodee, who had just left to go to her car, to come back to the park.
Jodee came back with a copy of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights Act 2006 and challenged the officers, arguing they were practicing their human rights.
It’s at this point that Jodee started filming her conversation with the officers, a video that was later uploaded to Facebook on Tuesday.
The video begins with the female officer explaining to Jodee that she is speaking to her friend because her children were playing on equipment.
‘What law is she (the other mother) breaking?’ Jodee asked.
‘She’s breaking the Chief Health Officer’s public health directions,’ the officer replied.
The officers asked for the mother’s details but Jodee’s friend refused, prompting the male officer (pictured, left) to reportedly say: ‘If you don’t give me your details, how about I arrest you in front of your children?’
‘No, they’re directives, they’re not actual laws,’ the Jodee replied, prompting the police officer to point out there is legislation.
‘That’s legislation, that’s not a law,’ Jodee argued, prompting the officer to say ‘legislation are laws to us’.
Legislation is a law or collection of laws, which are set by parliament.
She then said the children are allowed to play in the playground under Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and handed the officer a laminated document.
‘I understand the Charter of Human Rights,’ the officer replied, before the mother said: ‘Well, you understand no one is breaking the law right now.’
Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were taken back to stage three restrictions last week (pictured, a couple in the city on Friday)
The Charter of Human Rights Act reads: ‘Every person lawfully within Victoria has the right to move freely within Victoria and to enter and leave it and has the freedom to choose where to live.’
The new COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 limited a number of human rights during the state of emergency.
The Victorian government has deemed these limitations as ‘necessary, justified and proportionate’ in its statement of compatibility with the Human Rights Charter.
Australia does not have a Bill of Rights like the US, which means the government can limit human rights in times of emergency.
The video ends with the mothers going back to their cars and the police officers going their separate ways.
Jodee’s friend said the children are allowed to play in the playground under Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and handed it to the female officer (pictured)
The officers could have potentially issued the mother with an on-the-spot fine of $1,652 for non-compliance.
The legal team from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) said the Chief Medical Officer’s directions are enforceable by law.
The directions are made in accordance with emergency powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic), according to the lawyers.
But the legal team stressed that Victoria Police must still consider human rights and act compatibly with human rights when enforcing the directives.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Jodee’s friend said she felt ‘intimidated’ by the male officer who boldly threatened to arrest her in front of her children.
‘I thought “Oh, God”. I know Jodee had a copy of the human rights act in her car. I said to the gentlemen, “Can I call my solicitor?”‘ she said.
‘Once I said that, it’s almost like they took it as an escalation pass and started talking to whoever they had on their end.’
The video ends with the mothers (pictured) going back to their cars and the police officers going their seperate ways. No one was fined or arrested
Jodee said she was ‘terrified’ when she heard police threatened to arrest her friend and ran back with a copy of the Charter of Human Rights Act.
‘What disturbed me is the male officer had threatened her to try and get information out of her and arrest her,’ Jodee told Daily Mail Australia.
‘One hundred per cent he was trying to entrap her by getting her details. When I hear police are harassing innocent people to get a fine out of them, that’s just disgusting. Go and do your real job, go conserve and protect.
‘Police are always patrolling Lilydale Lake and handing out fines. Mums are just trying to get out of the house and exercise and they’re being harassed.
‘We’ve got enough stress on us right now with everything that’s happening without them adding more unnecessary stress.’
Victoria Police declined to comment on the incident.
‘We’re not providing comment on specific incidents in relation to breaches of the CHO’s directives,’ a police spokeswoman said.
The playground at Lilydale Lake Park in Melbourne (pictured) Jodee’s friend said there was no sign to indicate the park was closed – but it is currently illegal to use playgrounds in Melbourne