Generous Victorians have donated more than $250,000 in just 24 hours to 3,000 public housing residents locked inside their tower blocks as a second wave of COVID-19 continues to ravage the state and its most vulnerable people.
Premier Daniel Andrews has closed the doors to nine Melbourne housing towers from 4pm on Saturday as fears grow the deadly respiratory virus is being spread rapidly within their walls.
There are 543 active cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, with another 74 infections confirmed on Sunday.
The ‘hard lockdown’ has forced residents in the towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne to stay inside for at least five days under the eye of armed police on every floor of every block.
Nine towers in the suburbs of Flemington (pictured), Kensington and North Melbourne have been closed for five days over fears they have become hotbeds for the state’s COVID-19 second wave
The Victorian Trades Hall Council has established a fundraiser asking for financial aid for the impacted residents spread across 1,345 units
The Victorian Trades Hall Council, which represents trade unions across the state, has established a fundraiser asking for financial aid for the impacted residents spread across 1,345 units.
‘The Victorian union movement will do whatever is needed to support residents,’ the fundraiser reads.
‘Be it employment advice, representation or financial support, we will work in solidarity to get people through.
‘The burden of public crises is usually shouldered by those already in precarious situations. This is unfair. It should be our work to make sure this isn’t the case again.’
By Sunday evening – barely a day after the campaign was set up on charity fundraising platform Raisely – $264,401 had been raised online by kind-hearted strangers.
Multiple donations were flooding through the website page every minute, with recent pledges ranging from as little as $10 to as much as $1,000.
Taking to its Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, the union body thanked donors for their ‘outpouring of support’
A ‘total’ or ‘hard’ lockdown where residents are completely confined to their homes is a first for Australia during the pandemic. Pictured are police establishing a road block next to the Flemington housing blocks on July 4
As donations continued to stream into the fundraiser, the council took to its Facebook page on Sunday afternoon to thank donors for their ‘outpouring of support’.
‘Funds will be disbursed in consultation with the Victorian Multicultural Commission, community groups and residents and their representative associations and in consultation with community services support, and the government,’ the council said.
‘The fund is overseen by Victorian Trades Hall Council and a final report on the distribution of the funds will be publicly available.’
The union body is already well-known in Victoria for its work supporting asylum seekers – this week revealing it was delivering thousands of culturally-appropriate meals to asylum seekers during the COVID-19 crisis.
A man living in a flat is seen making a gesture with his arms crossed at the Flemington Public housing flats. Nine blocks across Flemington and North Melbourne are locked down entirely
Premier Daniel Andrews locked the doors to the nine housing towers amid fears the virus is spreading rapidly within their walls.
About 500 police will be deployed across the nine towers during each shift, or about 55 officers per unit.
The health concerns driving the stricter lockdown are attributed to crowded living and shared spaces, such as lifts.
While on Sunday he admitted he still could not ‘rule out’ that possibility, the drop in cases has at least granted the state a temporary reprieve.
Mr Andrews announced that residents of the public housing towers will not have to pay rent for the next fortnight.
About 500 police will be deployed across the nine towers during each shift, or about 55 officers per unit (Pictured: A group of officers outside public housing towers on Racecourse Road)
A ‘total’ or ‘hard’ lockdown where residents are completely confined to their homes is a first for Australia during the pandemic.
He also said that people who are unable to go to work because they are locked in their homes will receive $1,500 over the next two weeks. Unemployed residents in the towers will receive $750 payment.
In Flemington, the high density complexes at 12 Holland Court, 120 Racecourse Road, 126 Racecourse Road and 130 Racecourse Road went into hard lockdown immediately.
Likewise in North Melbourne, 12 Sutton Street, 33 Alfred Street, 76 Canning Street, 159 Melrose Street and 9 Pampas Street were put into hard lockdown also.
VICTORIA’S HARD LOCKDOWN
Nine public housing towers in Melbourne are in immediate lockdown for at least five days.
Flemington: The high density complexes at 12 Holland Court, 120 Racecourse Road, 126 Racecourse Road and 130 Racecourse Road.
North Melbourne: 12 Sutton Street, 33 Alfred Street, 76 Canning Street, 159 Melrose Street and 9 Pampas Street.
Premier Daniel Andrews said 23 coronavirus cases have been recorded across more than 12 households in Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates in recent days.
The premier praised those living in their towers and also the more than 21,500 people who were tested in all parts of Victoria on Saturday.
New South Wales recorded 14 new cases on Sunday.
‘I thank each and every one of them for that seemingly small contribution, but I really massive part of our public health response,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘The whole strategy depends on knowing where the virus is putting in place the appropriate contact tracing and public health interventions to contain the virus.
‘Without the testing numbers, without people coming forward and giving their time and consenting to a test, that is incredibly difficult to know.’