Many Melburnians in public housing are in a desperate position. Here’s how you can help
06.07.2020

Many Melburnians in public housing are in a desperate position. Here’s how you can help

Image by David Jackmanson/Flickr
Words by Tom Parker

Do you have the capability to help out?

The recent announcement of strict lockdowns on nine public housing buildings in North Melbourne and Flemington in light of the spike in Victorian COVID-19 cases was not only enforced with little notice but has also compromised the residents’ basic human rights. As part of the lockdown, those in these public housing estates won’t be able to leave their homes for five days.

UPDATE: As of July 10, eight of the nine public housing towers had been freed of their lockdown, with the tower at 33 Alfred Street, North Melbourne remaining in confined conditions.

For those who are not members of public housing accommodation, there are a number of ways in which you can help the cause, whether it be by email communication to the Premier, through donations or providing supplies for those in lockdown. To help you provide support for those in need, here’s a list of some ways you can get involved.

Make contact

There are two main ways you can contact ministers or the Premier in order to make your voice heard and that is by way of email or phone call. While you may feel as though emailing or ringing the decision-makers might be a lost cause, it is not. Voicing your concerns fuels awareness and, like signing a petition, it can often be about rallying in numbers. You can find an email template via the Facebook page, ‘Feminism & Decolonisation’, as well as the best email addresses to contact.

There is a risk that your email could be registered as spam so it is important that you tailor it specifically to you – it’s not necessarily a cut and paste job. If you’re keen to have your voice heard but are concerned that your email won’t get through, then give the Premier’s office a tingle at (03) 9651 5000 and voice your concerns that way.

Donate

There are a number of places where you can donate money to help, including RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, the first refugee and asylum seeker organisation in Australia to be run and governed solely by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees. They recently issued a public statement calling on the Victorian Trade Hall Council to denounce the lockdown of the nine concerned public housing buildings.

If you want your donations to directly reach the public housing residents then make a donation to an approved mutual aid fund. You can find out more information about this here. A Chuffed campaign has also been organised by The Ubuntu Project in response to the strict lockdowns. You can donate to it here.

Provide supplies

While financial aid will be hugely beneficial for those in lockdown, many are simply in need of basic life essentials. North Melbourne’s Australian Muslim Social Services Agency is asking for donations with PPE equipment (masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, etc), sanitary pads, medications, baby products and toilet paper the main priorities. The centre is located at 91-101 Boundary Road, North Melbourne.

Spread the word

Share, share and share again. With the click of the button, you are opening up the cause to countless more eyes, many of whom may not ordinarily be aware. Use your social media, message your mates, give someone a bell… just keep talking and prolonging. It’s for the basic human rights of these public housing residents.

Join online groups

There is one main online group you can join if you want to be part of the effort to support those in strict lockdown. Titled ‘3031/3051 – Action to support residents of public housing in lockdown’, the group is regularly updating its members with information on how to provide support for those in need. They are also asking for public contributions in a range of different areas. More information can be found here.

Sign a petition

There are a few petitions out there that have been created in the wake of the strict lockdowns. Many people have already signed up to this open letter to Victorian Trades Hall Council’s (VTHC) secretary, Luke Hilakari, asking for the VTHC to publically oppose the police lockdown of the nine public housing estates. You can find another here from Stand Together Against Racism while a Change petition has been organised on behalf of Victorian Socialists’ Kath Larkin.

There are many ways with which you can support even if you are financially unable. If you have helped in any of the above ways and still want to do more, you can fill out a form from Greens leader Adam Bandt here and be notified of any opportunities that arise.

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