3000 public housing residents in Melbourne, have been forced inside their apartments since Saturday. The detention direction was enforced immediately, and residents have been forbidden from leaving their apartments.

The lockdown is being enforced by a significant police presence, with officers on every floor and no indication has been given for how long the lockdown will last.

From their windows, they can see their neighbours in private apartment blocks, leave their property for the four main reasons allowed under the Victoria’s stage three restrictions. Residents of these private apartment blocks were also given 24 hours’ notice of the detention direction so they could prepare for the impending lockdown period.

The disparity is insulting.

The government’s justification for this action is that residents of public housing are vulnerable and living in high density with many shared spaces.

Emma King of the Victorian Council of Social Service CEO, has responded to the justification, stating “the lockdown of the public housing residences looks like a crime scene. A pandemic response should not be a crime scene. It is a collective, public health issue from which no one is immune”.

The public housing lockdowns is a police-led intervention. The residents of the affected towers are not criminals and do not need more policing – they, like their private neighbour, should be given the dignity of a humanitarian and health care response.