National

Rent waived for Vic lockdown residents

By AAP Newswire

Residents of the inner Melbourne public housing estates put under a hard lockdown will have their rent waived and receive a hardship payment.

The drastic measures were taken to quell a cluster of up to 30 cases in public housing towers, by shutting down nine buildings affecting 3000 people.

Residents in those buildings are among the state's most vulnerable with many having fled war or family violence and dealing with mental illness, disability and low income.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced people living in the affected buildings would have their rent waived for the next fortnight and receive hardship payments.

He said those employed would receive a $1500 hardship payment, while those not in the workforce would receive $750.

The government said it would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.

Health care and mental health services will also be provided, and activity boxes given to kids including crayons, Lego and puzzle books.

A dedicated hotline has also been established and a community connector program will be delivered with the Red Cross, local government and other organisations.

Translators are onsite and will be doorknocking to help explain the directions and understand the individual assistance tenants might need.

Resident Abdirahman Ibrahim, father of five children under five, learned that his building was going into lockdown mere moments before it happened.

Mr Ibrahim told AAP no one had yet contacted him about food delivery.

A health official had bought him a tin of formula for his seven-month-old twins but the tin wasn't the brand he specified and the babies would be unlikely to drink it.

Mr Ibrahim, a Somali-Australian, said his building was surrounded by police who were doing nothing to meet residents' needs.

"They (the government) are treating us like second class citizens and they are turning the people of Victoria against us like we're some sort of wild people that are out of control," he said.

The premier said the hard lockdown was about safety for residents and the wider state.

"This is about protection for you and your loved ones," he told reporters on Sunday.

"And then, by extension, it's about protecting the entire state and we don't make those decisions lightly."