Man arrested after altercation with police at Melbourne public housing tower

Tensions are high at the public housing towers in Melbourne that have been locked down since Saturday.

Police outside a public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington.

Police outside a public housing towers on Racecourse Road in Flemington. Source: AAP

A man has been arrested following an altercation with police outside one of the locked-down public housing towers in Melbourne, as Premier Daniel Andrews said he expected testing of all residents to soon be completed.

Video of the incident outside the Holland Court apartment block was circulated on social media on Tuesday. One woman, who identifies herself as a mental care worker, can be heard telling police the man was delivering food as he is pushed to the ground by a number of officers.

In a statement, a Victoria Police spokesperson said an unknown man approached police outside the building "in a verbally aggressive manner" shortly before 10pm on Tuesday.


The unknown man fled the scene, but a 28-year-old Altona North man was arrested after refusing the direction of police, the spokesperson said. He has since been released pending further inquiries.

"Police are investigating if the incident with the unknown man, which occurred during the middle of a food delivery by a local charity, is related to a minor incident at the same address earlier in the week," the spokesperson said.

"It is not believed to be related to the delivery of food."

About 3,000 residents across nine public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington have been in hard lockdown, prevented from leaving their buildings since Saturday after an outbreak of positive coronavirus cases linked to the locations.

Residents of Melbourne's locked-down towers are struggling to receive essential supplies

Tenants have called for the police presence to be reduced and a community-led response be implemented. 

Residents group Voices from the Blocks issued a statement on Wednesday following the altercation with police. 

"A public health response should include community members, health workers and relevant services that already work with and understand the community, not police," it stated.

“Volunteers are exposing themselves to police brutality in order to provide basic essential medical and food services for residents,” counselor and local resident Tigist Kebede added.

The Victorian Premier has said the hard lockdown would be lifted in line with the wider State 3 restrictions which will be imposed on Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire for six-weeks from midnight on Wednesday once all residents have undergone a COVID-19 test.

On Wednesday, he said authorities were "very confident" that all testing would be completed by the end of Wednesday.

"The quicker everyone gets tested, the quicker we can get those results and then put in place a detailed plan to provide tailored and specific support to those people who test positive," he said.

"I again say to every single resident of those towers, you will be under these restrictions for not a moment longer than you need to be."

Six more positive cases were linked to the outbreak on Wednesday, taking the total number to 75. A total of 134 new cases were reported in Victoria on Wednesday, down from the daily record of 191 announced the previous day.

Under the Stage 3 lockdowns, residents will only be able to leave their homes for four reasons; to exercise, buy essential items, study or work, and for caregiving or medical purposes.

Residents in Melbourne public housing towers who need access to support and assistance should call the Housing Call Centre on 1800 961 054. If you need a translator, first call 131 450. Both services are 24/7. More information can be found here.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.


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Published 8 July 2020 at 3:20pm
By SBS News