Left to ‘starve’ with four sausage rolls
Residents locked down in north Melbourne's public housing towers say they are "starving" and have broken down on camera as they say they were only given four sausage rolls to survive on during a hard lockdown.
Public housing residents Debbie Harrison and her elderly mother Ivy told A Current Affair on Monday night they'd run out of fresh food and toilet paper and when they asked for help they were ignored.
Residents in nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were put into a hard lockdown confining them to their homes on Saturday afternoon, after a spike in coronavirus cases was linked to some of the towers.
Ms Harrison said over a period of 48 hours her and her mother were only given four sausage rolls in a plastic bag to eat.
"The (sausage rolls) are just going to go in the bin," she told the reporter who interviewed her from her balcony.
She said her and her mum had been OK on Sunday but "today, it's just not fair."
Another tower resident, Omar, told the program pregnant mums had been begging other residents for milk.
"People are going to die of starvation," he said.
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On social media groups organised to take in donations of food and other goods for the 3000 people on hard lockdowns in the nine towers. One group working in Melbourne organised for donors to give food and other goods while maintaining social distance and practising hygiene. They quickly reached capacity for donations on Monday.
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Hi hello! ~ for those who are new here 👋🏾 hello! I’m amrita ~ I’m not an organiser nor an activist - I am normally a dancer/choreographer (so can move people in a certain way...) What’s happening in the flats is inhumane, classist and racist (& maybe not surprising which is disappointing) no one deserves to be hungry nor scared/in-prisoned in their own home...yet another day the colony......... ______ This was a 24 hour call to action and it was multiple volunteers and @amssayouthconnect doing all of the big backend work!! Big thanks to @next_wave + @brunswickmechanicsinstitute Thank you to all who donated - we will have more info tomorrow for those who didn’t get to drop off - apologies and thank you. Sorry if I haven’t responded to your message. Will let you know when the drop is done. ———- We were at capacity quickly tonight because things need time to be sorted safely and considerately. But I will let you know when we have more information/have done a stocktake. For those who I said I would call back I am writing down numbers now. ——- At the risk of sounding corny I’ll leave it here but.... I didn’t do this alone people/community did. Power to the people & down with the colonial project.
But on Monday night footage surfaced showing workers from the SES removing bags of donated food from one of the locked down public housing towers in Flemington.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services apologised for the incident in a statement given to freelance journalist Margaret Simons.
"DHHS is aware of some delays with accepting donations and deliveries which caused confusion at the Flemington housing estate this evening.
"We are currently working with the parties involved to make sure food and other supplies are being provided without further interruption.
"We apologise for the inconvenience and frustration caused and thank the residents for their co-operation and patience."
Today former Labor leader Bill Shorten urged the Victorian government to "treat these people as decently as we can", saying "people who live in these towers are not something different or special.
Residents are confused as to why all their supplies are being confiscated without information (photos are from Flemington flats) pic.twitter.com/vava8r3uTA— wāni. (@wanifrombukavu) July 6, 2020
"They are battlers, they are trying to go to work."
He said while some of the residents were "relieved that they are getting more resources, others are disillusioned".
"Just to explain these towers … In the ones in my area, there is 22 levels. There is nine apartments a levels.
"They have two lifts and sometimes one of the lifts may not be working. So you have to walk up and down 22 sets of external concrete stairways, it is very windy.
Mr Shorten said while some commentators had been "carrying on like they have the Life Of Riley … they don't."
"There's a whole lot of people trying to make ends meet. It is a difficult situation."
Originally published as Left to 'starve' with four sausage rolls