Melbourne housing tower residents compare lockdown to the Hunger Games

‘It’s like we’re in the Hunger Games’: Residents inside Melbourne’s housing commission towers clash with cops trying to enforce lockdown and complain their free food is expired

  • Residents of Melbourne’s locked up public housing towers have issued demands
  • They say they want police removed from towers and to be able to leave for shops
  • Premier Dan Andrews announced nine towers will be locked down for five days
  • Angry residents have shared footage online of their confrontations with police
  • Videos give a rare insight into life inside the towers under the current conditions
  • Victoria is battling a COVID-19 second wave with almost 200 cases on weekend 

Residents locked inside nine inner Melbourne public housing towers have compared their lives to the dystopian movie The Hunger Games.  

Videos from inside the nine high-rise public housing towers show residents receiving information over loud speakers and talking to police through locked security doors – while others have complained about receiving out-of-date food.

The ‘hard lockdown’ announced by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on the towers in North Melbourne, Flemington and Kensington began at 4pm on Saturday after an outbreak of COVID-19 within the buildings.

The lockdown will last for five days, with all residents tested for COVID-19. Those who refuse will be required to stay inside their homes for 15 days.

So far, 53 cases of COVID-19 have been discovered inside the nine towers.  

After being caught by surprise when the no-warning lockdown was implemented, many of those in the buildings were now furious at a lack of food and information from authorities. 

Flemington tower resident Najat Mussa (pictured) posted several videos from inside the public housing building to social media in the wake of the ‘hard lockdown’ being introduced. In one she compared the situation being experienced by residents to a scene of The Hunger Games

Police began to go door-to-door throughout the buildings on Sunday to provide residents with information about their situation. One man who spoke to police through a locked security door said he was not a resident, but rather had been visiting a friend when the lockdown came into force

A letter distributed throughout the towers and seen by Daily Mail Australia (pictured) states that any residents of the building who refuse a COVID-19 test will be detained for 15 days

Flemington tower resident Najat Mussa posted a video of a Victorian Department of Health official addressing the entire building over a loud speaker.


– Lack of essential supplies and food

– Heavy handed attitudes of police in enforcing the stay-at-home orders

– Inability to go shopping is at odds with others in the hotspot postcodes

– Lack of protective equipment such as masks for residents

– No information provided about length or reasons behind lockdown

In it the woman can be heard telling residents: ‘We are here to assist you’. 

‘We’re getting spoken to from a speaker like we’re on the Hunger Games,’ Ms Mussa wrote. 

A common complaint among residents has been a lack of access to food and crucial supplies.

The sudden enforcement of the hard lockdown has meant those inside didn’t have time to stock up on groceries, household items or essentials, such as baby formula.

One man who tried to deliver food to a resident in need broke down in tears as he claimed Victorian Police had refused to pass the supplies onto his friend.

‘We’ve been talking to some of the residents in the Flemington flats and we’ve been organising food supplies for people, and things that they need,’ 

‘We just came back from dropping it off and there was a whole lot of police presence there and they were harassing people.

‘And on top of that, everything we bought for the resident in the building, and even though we told them specifically who it was for, they’ve started harassing him too.’

A woman is escorted out of her public housing tower to a COVID-19 testing centre on Monday

Residents are confronted by police as they exit one of the residential blocks through a stairwell

Food boxes from Woolworths is delivered to one of the Flemington Towers on Racecourse Road

Health officials in full personal protective equipment begin the long process of testing all residents in the towers

More than 3,000 residents of the nine towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne will be locked down for at least five days

Every resident in the towers will be tested for COVID-19, or be required to stay isolated inside their homes for 15 days if they refuse

A total of 53 cases of COVID-19 have been discovered inside the nine towers, including 16 new cases announced on Monday

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that those people who live in the public housing towers will not be required to pay rent for the next two weeks

Food supply trucks arrived at a public housing tower on Racecourse Road in Flemington on Monday morning

Police stop a man who attempted to get out of a Flemington housing commission tower on Monday. He claimed he was going on a ‘coffee run’

Police converged on the man as he approached the rear of a Flemington housing commission tower on Racecourse Road

The man emerged inside the towers shortly after where police again took hold of him before he vanished back into the tower

The man was led away by armed police officers who are guarding all exits and entrances into the buildings


New South Wales: 3,240

Victoria: 2,660

Queensland: 1,067

Western Australia: 618

South Australia: 443

Tasmania: 228

Australian Capital Territory: 108

Northern Territory: 30



Police spent Sunday walking door-to-door throughout the nine towers to talk with all residents and explain the situation.

Incredibly, one man claimed he was not a resident of the tower but had been visiting a friend at the time the lockdown came into play.

Authorities had refused to let him leave the building.

‘I don’t live here, I had to sleep on the floor. I came to visit yesterday and I couldn’t get out,’ the man told one officer through a locked security door.

The police officer then offered to make a phone call in a bid to help the man.  

Tower resident Nur Ali did receive a supply package from officials, but complained it contained no essential items and several foods that had expired.

‘No essentials, no bananas, no milk. None of that kind of stuff,’ he told 7News.

‘Are you serious? This is what you’re feeding us? We’re human, come on.

‘It’s disgusting and unacceptable.’ 

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton announced on Monday that 16 new cases of COVID-19 had been discovered, taking the total across the nine towers to 53.

In total 127 cases were discovered across Victoria on Sunday.   

More than 3,000 residents in towers across Flemington, Kensington and North Melbourne will be couped up inside their homes for at least five days

Workers in personal protective equipment are seen entering the Flemington tower on Monday

A total of 12 postcodes across Melbourne have been declared hotspots by the government

Police officers have been stationed on every floor and at every entrance, and exit, into all nine towers

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton (pictured) said there were 16 new cases discovered inside the towers following Sunday’s testing blitz, with more likely to come in following days

Within hours of being placed into lockdown a list of demands drawn up by residents of the towers was circulating on social media.

It included them being able to leave their homes for essential reasons, like others in locked down suburbs are able to do, and the removal of all police officers from the buildings.

Police officers have been stationed on every floor of every building.

Mr Andrews announced on Sunday that all residents of the towers would not have to pay rent for the next two weeks.

Anyone unable to go to work because they are locked in their home will receive a one-off $1,500 payment. 

Unemployed residents will receive a $750 payment. 

A letter distributed to residents of the towers and seen by Daily Mail Australia stated that anyone living in the buildings who refuse a COVID-19 test will be detained for 15 days – instead of the standard five days.

Residents locked inside the nine Melbourne public housing towers deemed to be COVID-19 hotspots have issued a ‘list of demands’ to Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured)

Footage shared by residents shows health officials dressed in protective gear beginning the testing process. Every resident of the nine public housing towers will be tested for COVID-19

Photos taken by residents inside the buildings showed police stationed at every exit out of the locked down towers

Food and drink packages (right) were delivered to residents by police (left) on Saturday night but some complained they did not receive essentials such as bread and milk

Signs have also been placed throughout the towers declaring an ’emergency area’ (pictured)

Despite being told not to leave their homes, residents used stairwells to move to all areas of the buildings.

As they walked up and down a stairwell, the group of young residents played a song by rapper Akon that features the lyrics: ‘I’m locked up, they won’t let me out.’

Other footage shared by residents showed health officials dressed in protective gear beginning the testing process.

Signs had been placed throughout the towers declaring an ’emergency area’.

‘This building and immediate surroundings are the subject of a declared emergency area,’ the sign read.

‘Victoria Police are satisfied the building and surrounds are subject to an emergency due to the actual or imminent occurrence of an even endangering safety or health.’  



* Victoria has recorded 127 new COVID-19 cases, 16 of those in public housing towers.

* The NSW and Victorian border will close from midnight on Tuesday, the first closure between the two states in 100 years. 

* Residents of the inner Melbourne public housing estates put under a hard lockdown will have their rent waived and receive a hardship payment. A total of 27 cases have been detected in the nine towers which are home to 3000 people.

* Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the decision to lock down the North Melbourne and Flemington housing estates as necessary to protect residents as the state tries to quell its coronavirus resurgence.

* The Australian Medical Association has called for a temporary pause in the easing of COVID-19 restrictions across the country until Victoria gets its outbreak under control.

* NSW has recorded 14 new coronavirus cases, but all were returned travellers from overseas who are now in hotel quarantine.

* A Queensland nightclub operator could cop a hefty fine after video emerged of a packed dance floor with next to no social distancing.


* Victoria’s coronavirus crisis, the lack of a solid lead from the US, and a Reserve Bank meeting on Tuesday are likely to contribute to a weaker start for Australian shares.


* Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs have begun the exodus of clubs out of Victoria amid the state’s COVID-19 spike. All 10 Victorian teams will play interstate in round six, with the league establishing hubs in Queensland, Western Australia and the NSW.

* American Frances Tiafoe has become the latest prominent tennis player to test positive for coronavirus. World No.1 Novak Djokovic and several others tested positive earlier this month after playing in an exhibition event in Europe.



* July 10 – Queensland to reopen borders to all visitors except Victorians, who must undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.

* July 17 – NT to reopen its borders.

* July 18 – WA to lift all remaining virus restrictions except border closures.

* July 24 – Tasmania to reopen its borders. 


* Australia has recorded 8449 cases in total, with 946 active cases and 7399 people recovered.

* The national death toll is 104: NSW 51, Victoria 20, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6, SA 4, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in the official tolls of both states)


* Cases: at least 11,271,021

* Deaths: at least 530,858

* Recovered: at least 6,064,394

Data current as of 1800 AEST July 5, taking in federal government and state/territory government updates and the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 World Map.

 – Australian Associated Press

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