Statement from Nicole Bartholomeusz, CE, cohealth
Victorian community health service, cohealth, contributed to the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on the detention and treatment of public housing residents during the hard lockdown, delivering an account of events through a written submission and providing information when subpoenaed.
It is important that we learn from how this emergency action was implemented and the Ombudsman review is part of that process.
On 6 July, DHHS requested cohealth establish on-site primary care clinics at Flemington and North Melbourne public housing estates to support the health and wellbeing of the residents placed into lockdown.
We would like to acknowledge the residents of Flemington and North Melbourne public housing for their leadership and cooperation during the hard lockdown and collaboration in subsequent months.
Together with all Victorians we thank them for their continued efforts today, contributing to Victoria’s incredible success in reducing transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria.
The Ombudsman’s report underscores what community health organisations have long known; that services and health responses must incorporate shared community expertise and knowledge.
In planning to respond for any public health emergencies in future, we hope government can prioritise the mobilisation of the health workforce first and ensure the police are there to support the health effort.
We are hoping the intensive support and focus on the needs of residents, including making it easy to access health services, continue to be a priority for the community and government into the future.
We will use this opportunity to work with government about how we strengthen the health service response generally to vulnerable communities including suggesting that a community health clinic be provided on site for these estates in perpetuity.
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More on cohealth:
cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.