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Updated on 7 Jul 2020. Posted on 7 Jul 2020

Lockdown Has Prevented These Public Housing Residents From Accessing Grocers — This Is What The Government Has Provided Them With

The residents have been unable to leave their units due to a mandatory lockdown that has been put in place.

Earlier this week, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that nine public housing towers in Melbourne would be put in a "hard lockdown" for at least five days, following a COVID-19 outbreak.

Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

About 3,000 residents in 1,345 units have been affected, with reports saying that many were not informed of the mandatory lockdown — which came into effect on Saturday 4 July — until armed police arrived at the property.

A view of the Flemington Towers Government Housing complex
Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

Unlike the stage three lockdown policies, that were previously implemented in areas deemed to be COVID-19 "hotspots" around Melbourne, the residents in these public housing towers are reportedly unable to leave their unit (except for emergencies) and were given little time to prepare.

A public housing window with a note saying "Treat us as humans, not caged animals! End this effective lockdown immediately!"
William West / Getty Images

According to The Guardian, they have been also been "subject to mandatory testing and are being monitored by 500 police officers".

In light of these rules, Premier Andrews said that the state government would facilitate the delivery of food and essentials to residents through charities and delivery companies.

Boxes of food being delivered by volunteers wearing masks
Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

Since then, this proposal has come under fire by many public housing residents, who have reportedly received "expired" food parcels that are unable to be eaten.

These food packages that @DanielAndrewsMP is giving to the residents of Flemington and North Melbourne flats contain expired food. THEY ARE HUMANS, they feeding them left over scraps as if they are animals. This is Australia in 2020.

The video shown is taken by Nur Ali, a public housing resident who told 7 News that the box his family received contained "no essentials" and at least five expired items.

#freeThe9blocks This is what the community food bank currently needs (picture 1) and the expired “food” parcels The State Government has literally left on the floor for them (picture 2)

Others have shared images highlighting the "mystery bag" food parcels, many of which appear to have been left on the ground outside apartment doors.

Facebook: BernieFinnMP

After 31 hrs of lockdown, announcement came at N #Melbourne tower "Pick up ur food outside the door" uneatable, frozen things in bags on the floor courtesy of vic gov. #melbournelockdown #MELBOURNESCOVIDPRISONS #COVID19Aus #COVID19 @Channel10AU @Channel7 @Channel9 @SBSNews

Some have questioned the adequacy of the "essentials" that have been supplied — for example, one resident shared that his box of supplies contained no milk or bread.

Ok so first they lock us done with no warning and don’t let us get essentials and said essentials will be provided then they bring 25-30 boxes of food which have wheat bix, 3 tuna cans, packet of pasta, tomato paste.... no milk no bread wtf is going on

@nadaaaosman_ / Via Twitter: @JoshButler

Given the wide array of the residents' cultural backgrounds, there have also been concerns about the "shameful" and "degrading" behaviour by the government in not providing appropriate food.

Some Muslim residents are given pork for dinner. How degrading and shameful. How hard is it to just hold all pork products? It’s not essential for pork eaters to eat it during the lockdown!! This is infuriating. #freethe9blocks

This comes after Premier Andrews said that, "This is a particularly culturally and linguistically diverse group of people, and making sure that we don’t just have quantities of food but the appropriate food is very important as well."

A number of organisations, like the AMSSA Youth Connect and Sikh Volunteers Australia, have been lending a helping hand, providing much-needed supplies and hot meals to residents.

@amssayouthconnect / Via Instagram: @amssayouthconnect

While Voices From The Blocks, which is a "coalition of residents, family members and community of the North Melbourne, Flemington and Kensington public housing estates" have put out a media release, outlining key demands from those affected.

As of yet, there is no offical lockdown release date for these residents. But, if you would like to help out, fundraisers and food donations have been set up and AMSSA are posting new information on their Instagram account.

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