by Antoinette Gentile, Acting CEO, Djirra
All of us are facing many challenges at the moment following the Premier’s announcement that the Melbourne Metropolitan area (and some surrounding areas) are again going into Stage 3 restrictions.
Right now, our thoughts are with the many residents of the nine public housing towers (or flats as us Aboriginal people call them) in Flemington and Kensington who are still in lock down. We cannot even begin to understand the level of fear, pressure, and uncertainty this situation is causing them. Not being able to leave – go to work, not to care for other family members, not to get groceries or external medical care.
Representatives from the ACCO sector, including Djirra, came together on Sunday to discuss ways in which our respective organisations can provide assistance to our mob affected by the lockdown.
Together with other ACCOs, Djirra will work in solidarity and do whatever is needed to support Aboriginal residents and get people through this challenging time. Djirra’s legal and non-legal support services have identified all current and former clients and contacts who are living in the public housing towers in Flemington, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Richmond and Fitzroy – or living nearby. Throughout this week we have been reaching out for a yarn and offering support and assistance.
As Acting CEO, I am enormously proud of the work of all the staff at Djirra. I appreciate all the efforts you have made to make sure that our women know we are here to support them in any way we can.
Djirra is concerned about over policing and racism. We are worried for families cooped up in tiny flats for five days or more who may be struggling with loss of income, physical and mental health issues and family violence.
The heavy police presence in the public housing towers places a particular burden on Aboriginal women, many of whom, because of our history, have a profound mistrust of police and authorities. For generations, instead of being heard, supported and receiving the treatment we deserve as survivors of violence, Aboriginal women have been criminalised and our children removed. For Aboriginal families, police at our door means our kids being ripped from our arms. We always worry about losing our children, because we’ve seen it happen over and over again. This is one of the reasons why it’s especially important right now that Djirra can be there for our women and make sure they feel safe.
As this crisis deepens, it’s more important than ever that we stay connected and accessible to our most vulnerable community members who have been locked in and cut off from their usual supports, with police stationed at their door.
Below is the combined ACCO’s pamphlet and the CLCs Lockdown advice regarding legal services. Please share it with anyone who might need it. Click here to download a pdf version.