International World Day of Social Justice 2021

In a year marked by social distancing and isolation, we were reminded in 2020 about the importance of community and belonging.

Saturday 20 February 2021 - the International World Day of Social Justice - serves as an opportunity for us to reflect on how the global mission for social justice starts in our local community.
When Victorians sought to tackle this virus, not all Victorians were treated equally. When important health measures were taken, some of us were afforded more rights and time to prepare than others. Those in public housing towers in North Melbourne and Flemington were faced with a hard lockdown with no notice. Police were immediately positioned outside their homes. This served as a stark reminder that not everyone is treated equally in our society. Not all of us are made to feel like we belong. 
'The Premier said we are in this together, but actions speak louder than words and their actions show we are not in this together,' said one resident, who told us how they felt singled-out from the rest of Victoria.

'It feels like to them we are a criminal, and not even human beings. That we are not even Australians.'

Being one of the first organisations on the scene, Inner Melbourne Community lawyers witnessed first-hand the way in which local public housing residents were initially sidelined by decision-makers and the impact this had on the fulfilment of their human rights.

We also saw how the residents mobilised together to take action where the government failed. We backed their demands for food, fresh air, medical care and exercise, advocated for a more proportionate response, and called for an independent investigation.

The Victorian Ombudsman's report into the hard lockdown validated the experience of residents and that there was a profound abuse of their most basic human rights.

While the report goes a long way towards recognising the harm done to the community and the trust that was broken, the government has not accepted its recommendations. There is still more work to do.
Donate today so that we can...
  • make space for residents to actively participate in the strategic planning of local community legal centres' response to the Ombudsman's recommendations
  • create opportunities for residents to have a seat at the table with decision-makers
  • translate key legal information into community languages and deliver community legal education sessions
  • continue to work with other legal centres, pro bono barristers and human rights organisations to determine options for other forms of legal redress
  • advocate to ensure the Ombudsman's recommendations are implemented and for legislative and policy change to ensure these mistakes are never repeated. 
To keep up-to-date with our work with public housing residents, sign-up to our newsletter here.
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Australian Aboriginal flag Torres Straight Islanders flagInner Melbourne Community Legal acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which we work, the Boon wurrung and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin nation. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to their cultures and Elders past and present. This always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

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