Lack of security creating violence at housing towers

Katie Johnson

Residents at the Carlton housing estates are calling for 24-hour security and screen doors to put an end to violence, squatting and drug dealing.

Numerous incidents have taken place at the Lygon, Drummond and Cardigan street buildings over the past year which have made residents fear for their safety.

Resident David Biskupsi said that he had almost been stabbed at his home due to the lack of screen doors in the apartments.

“I came home from Woolies, propped the door open with a chair and was in the kitchen putting groceries away when the chair went flying and there was a female at the door with a butcher’s knife,” Mr Biskupsi said.

“She’s a resident of this building who is known to have psychological problems.”   

Mr Biskupsi said that the buildings, which had been constructed in 2009, had a lack of security for the residents.

“People knock on the door and you have no idea who’s on the other side as people can hide away from the peep hole,” Mr Biskupsi said.


In COVID times people want to leave the door open and air out their buildings so the lack of a screen door is a massive problem.


Residents of the Carlton estates along with Drummond St Services, the Church of All Nations and the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre have been sending letters to Minister for Housing Richard Wynne since April last year to no avail.

One of the letters cites a report commissioned by the Church of All Nations in 2020 which found ongoing issues such as “drug-taking by non-residents in shared facilities” and “gangs hanging around foyers of estate buildings”.

The report also found that stairwells were often contaminated, dogs were roaming around unsupervised and non-residents were sleeping in laundries and stairwells and “behaving in an intimidating manner when disturbed”.

Carlton housing estate resident Cory Memery said that crime was occuring in the building constantly and “something needs to be done about it”.

“495 Cardigan St has had a massive amount of violence and the state government hasn’t been listening,” Mr Memery said.

“Someone even got hurt at the over-55 tower last week at 530 Lygon St.”

“The mental anguish of the lockdowns has exacerbated problems that already existed, particularly when it comes to people coming to the building to buy drugs.”

The current security service provided at Carlton includes two foot patrol guards and one control room guard working 7pm to 3am.

However, as security guards do not have the power to deny access to the building, the department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) instead advises residents to “contact Victoria Police or the department’s Carlton Housing Office immediately” should they feel unsafe.

According to the Church of all Nations report, police can often take hours to respond to these requests.

“It is not up to residents to individually advocate on issues as they arise ... preventative health and safety measures should be implemented immediately by the state government to protect residents,” the report read.

Mr Memery said that security guards needed to be present 24/7 to protect vulnerable residents.

“We only have security from 7pm to 3am and because kids know exactly when they leave that’s when the issues happen,” Mr Memery said.


It needs to be 24/7 and they need to be given the power to stop people from entering the building.


Due to the lack of security, squatters have also broken into empty flats at the 510 Lygon St tower which contain two- and three-bedroom flats reserved for families.

Inner City News understands in many cases the DFFH left flats unlocked after families were moved into larger apartments which allowed squatters to enter as they pleased.

Mr Memery said that with many of the squatters using the apartments to sell drugs, residents were afraid to leave their apartments.

“Residents are concerned and frightened to even leave their flats because of the anti-social behaviour – children are scared,” Mr Memery said.

“Residents are reluctant to report this because they are frightened about repercussions, and the lack of response from authorities such as the police and housing office.”

With overcrowded living conditions, Mr Memery said that intruders posed a greater risk to the community during the pandemic.

“Have they been tested or vaccinated? This needs urgent attention, nobody should have to live like this,” Mr Memery said.

A Homes Victoria spokesperson said that repairs were underway at three vacant properties at 510 Lygon St after they were broken into and damaged.

“We are working with the local housing office to determine the suitability of the current security services provided at the Carlton housing estates,” the spokesperson said.

“We are constantly upgrading apartments at our high-rise estates, which includes installing security doors – the majority of apartments at Carlton have been upgraded.”

Inner City News understands that Minister for Housing Richard Wynne responded to a request for a meeting with resident advocacy groups to discuss the issues on June 17.

The meeting is expected to take place by the end of June.

Caption: Residents Cory Memery and Tewelde Kinane are fed up with the lack of response from Homes Victoria.

Caption: Residents are concerned that intruders on the estate could create a health risk during the pandemic.

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