Authorities had decided in July 2020 to impose severe restrictions on occupants of public buildings in Melbourne. They were strictly forbidden to leave their residence and were constantly watched by the police.
Australia has long implemented a zero Covid-19 strategy and particularly in the city of Melbourne, whose population of five million has been confined for 262 days. But the restrictions were tougher for the roughly 3,000 residents of HLM towers, who were subjected to a very strict 14-day confinement.
At the time of the second wave of Covid-19, in July 2020, dozens of cases were detected in these nine towers located north of Melbourne. At that time there was no vaccine yet. Moreover, such tall buildings in Australia are actually very rare. Even in big cities, the norm is the single-family home. In order to avoid pollution in the common areas, the authorities decided to impose strict restrictions on the residents, who imposed a total ban on leaving their residence and who were constantly monitored by the police.
Some say they were threatened by the police, and these harsh conditions, in these buildings where a very large part of the population are refugees from the Horn of Africa, have awakened a painful shock in some.
Compensation without excuse
The residents subsequently sued the Victorian government, and the latter announced that it would pay them five million dollars in compensation (about three million euros). The case was revealed in the press on Wednesday 10 May and if there is some kind of complacency among the population, there is also much bitterness because this government offer has only one aim: to get them to drop their legal process and up. All this without an apology.
The mediator of the State of Victoria, who was seized in the case, considered that this complete confinement was already prejudicial to the basic rights of the tenants of these premises, which were imposed overnight, without waiting for the opinion of the health authorities, and therefore the minimum that the government could do was precisely to apologize .
It is not yet known whether the plaintiffs will accept this proposal. No attorney or resident wanted to answer our questions, perhaps because they had until June 27th to decide whether or not to accept compensation, at which point they had not yet been divided.
This compensation is very low in the end, about 1000 euros per person, but the plaintiffs are for the most part very poor, and with the general rise in prices due to high inflation, it will certainly be difficult to resist. The Victorian Government, for its part, denies any wrongdoing, and considers that, by acting in this way, it has saved many lives.
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