• One of the towers on Morehead Street in Redfern known as Lawson. (NITV News: Grant Jordan)Source: NITV News: Grant Jordan
The woman says she has been given no guidance on how to safely clean and disinfect her apartment which has been exposed to the virus for a week.
Nadine Silva

18 Sep 2021 - 10:07 AM  UPDATED 18 Sep 2021 - 10:07 AM

Taminya* said she watched on with a heavy heart as her son and nephew were escorted out of their Redfern flat on Friday morning.

The teenagers, who tested positive last Saturday, are among 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases in an emerging cluster across three public housing towers on Morehead St.

Taminya said the boys were moved to special accommodation to safely isolate after spending the week in a small room without access to a separate bathroom.

“I felt like a bad person having them in the room, you know, it’s such a confined space,” she said. 

“My son could lay down on the floor, spread out, and touch all four walls. That's how small it is.”

So far Taminya has been able to avoid contracting the virus. Now, with the boys gone, she is concerned about safely cleaning and disinfecting her home.

She said laundry in the tower is communal and residents usually go downstairs to dispose of their rubbish.

“I kept asking them, how am I supposed to wash their sheets and clothes and stuff?” And they just say you have to wait for NSW Health to get back to you,” she said.

“I’ve been asking them and they’ve just been saying I can’t leave.

“Now I have to go in the room and thoroughly wash everything but how am I supposed to wash clothes, like should I be isolating?”

A spokesperson from NSW Health told NITV News these logistics fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Communities and Justice.

NITV News reached out to the department for comment.

Taminya said this isn't the first time she has been confused by official advice while trying to do the right thing.

When the boys first returned positive test results, Taminya said she was told someone would come to her flat to test her, but was later advised to visit the pop-up testing clinic at Poet’s Corner in the complex.   

Of 633 residents across the three towers, NSW Health has confirmed 350 have been tested for Covid-19.

Taminya said she’s been concerned about residents entering and exiting her building to get tested.

“There are only two lifts and if there are any cases in our building, they’ll be using the buttons, using the handles and touching everything to go out of the building,” she said.

“And then go stand around people that might not have it while they’re ill.”

Referring to the Redfern Towers cluster on Friday, Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale said she didn't have exact figures on how many Indigenous people have tested positive.

“There are Aboriginal health workers involved in supporting residents in the towers because clearly, there are a number of Aboriginal families implicated with the situation and those housing blocks,” she said.

“We will keep working closely with all local parties including the Department of Communities and Justice to ensure all supports are there and necessary for the people in those buildings”.

The Department of Communities and Justice would not confirm the exact number of Indigenous residents across the three towers but a spokesperson said “in public housing generally, 10.5 per cent of tenants" identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

While Taminya has received her first dose of the vaccine, she said she regrets not talking to her son out of his fears to join her.

“That’s where I’m kicking myself because the week before my son tested positive, I went and got my first shot,” she said.

“He said when I go for my second one, he’ll get his first one.

“But by then it was too late.”

NSW Health confirmed almost two-thirds of residents in the three buildings have been vaccinated, but it is unclear whether these figures apply to the first or second dose.

*NITV News has changed the name of the woman to protect her privacy.

‘It's dire’: Covid fears for inner-city communities as Redfern Towers struck
Redfern residents are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of their community as NSW authorities confirm an emerging COVID-19 cluster across three public housing towers in the inner-city Sydney suburb.