Police and healthcare workers at the lockded-down public housing towers. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/ NCA NewsWire
Police and healthcare workers at the lockded-down public housing towers. Picture: Andrew Henshaw/ NCA NewsWire

3000 tested in ‘prison-like detention’

Pressure is mounting on the Victorian Government to remove 3000 residents from "prison-like detention" as soon as possible after COVID-19 testing at the quarantined commission towers was completed overnight.

Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell told NCA NewsWire a mother inside the towers and without any access to ventolin for her diabetic daughter had been forced to reuse needles.

Another mother only saw her newborn baby for the first time on Wednesday night since they were separated when hard lockdown measures came into force on Saturday.

"There's been no thought and no planning to this hard lockdown - people have been treated like prisoners, and there has been no individual care," Ms Sandell said.

"As residents get test results today, the priority must be clearly and quickly telling people how lockdown will be eased so people can get out of prison-like detention as soon as possible."

Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell says residents have been ‘treated like prisoners’. Picture: Mark Stewart
Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell says residents have been ‘treated like prisoners’. Picture: Mark Stewart

 

The State Government faced heavy criticism for its handling of food supply delivery to the residents trapped in the quarantined towers in Flemington and North Melbourne.

Reports surfaced of food packages with expired products inside and a lack of essential items such as bread and milk.

Video footage also emerged of heated arguments between police officers and residents as authorities prevented food donations being delivered to hungry families.

While Ms Sandell said the food situation had improved, she was still working "every day" to help residents gain access to medications.

"We also had a situation where a mother was having trouble getting someone to deliver breast milk to her newborn baby in hospital," she said.

"To not be able to hold and feed your newborn baby, who is in special care, is tough and extreme."

Peter Hayes, the principal of nearby St Brendan's Primary School, also tried to have 30 laptops delivered to students trapped inside the towers.

Ms Sandell said the devices were finally given to the children on Wednesday night after five days.

St Brendan's Primary School principal Peter Hayes tried to have laptops delivered to 30 students inside the towers for five days. Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
St Brendan's Primary School principal Peter Hayes tried to have laptops delivered to 30 students inside the towers for five days. Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

 

The Government has partnered with local community leaders and groups, such as the North Melbourne Community Centre, Fareshare, the Community Grocer, Coles, and the Victorian Trades Hall Council, to help residents receive supplies.

A 1800 hotline has also been set up to help cater for residents' individual needs.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to provide an update of the hard lockdown at the towers later on Thursday.

On Saturday he announced residents were not allowed to leave the site in order to allow for rigorous testing of every individual and deep cleaning inside the buildings.

As of Wednesday, 75 positive infections have been linked to the towers outbreak.

Those tested positive cannot leave their rooms, while it is expected others will move to stage three restrictions, like the rest of greater Melbourne.

The Department of Health has been contacted for comment.

Originally published as 3000 tested in 'prison-like detention'


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