Locked down residents call for rent relief, less policing

Common Ground residents are organising to help the whole complex. Photo: Pip Hinman

Residents of Common Ground, a social housing estate run by Mission Australia (MA) in inner city Camperdown that was placed under a sudden, are calling for rent relief and an end to over-policing.

Four tenants tested positive to the virus. The block was deep cleaned and the hard lockdown implemented on September 2.

Saffaa, a resident, said her neighbour was taken without her consent in the middle of the night.

“The police, with full PPE and no ID, barged into her room and took her for three nights. Is this an abduction or kidnapping of residents, before lockdown? How can this be a health-driven policy?”

 (CGRAG) spokesperson Robin said that on the night before the lockdown NSW Police “barged into the apartments of five residents and took them to Concord Drug and Alcohol hospital”.

Jo, one of the residents who was removed, described her fear: “Two guys, over six foot tall and quite large size, pushed their way into my room … I didn’t know who they were. I was quite scared.

“The lady at the door said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going for two weeks’ … She said, ‘Public Health Order, pack your things you have five minutes’. I was too scared to pack a bag so I didn’t pack anything. They marched us downstairs. There were more than 30 of them in gowns and masks, which I thought was overkill.”

Jo and the other residents who were taken away were not told where they were going or why they were chosen. Residents say this was unnecessary and wrong.

Deliveries to the building are being searched by police, including a computer keyboard that was completely taken apart and put back together again. Police have also , limiting residents to six beers or one 375 milliliter bottle of spirits.

CGRAG is demanding: rent-free accommodation for all residents during lockdown; a meeting with NSW Health; the immediate delivery of residents’ medicines; an online town hall-style meeting for all residents; a meeting between the police liaison officer and a CGRAG legal representative; library drop offs; and access to free streaming services.

CGRAG is also  who live within five kilometres of Common Ground to walk past and show solidarity to residents.

“You have to understand how upset we are", Saffaa said. "They are just doing this because we’re poor. That’s what it comes down to."

[Find out how you can help out by emailing CommonGroundRes@gmail.com.]