UPDATED: “Soviet-style” CCTV cameras put up at public housing locations

Dominic Giannini 26 June 2020 37

Public housing residents came home this week to see newly installed CCTV cameras covered with barbed wire. Photos: Supplied.

A dozen four-metre tall, bright red and yellow security cameras covered in barbed wire were put up at public housing sites around Canberra this week before mysteriously being taken down days later.

Residents in public housing complexes in Canberra’s inner north near where the cameras were temporarily located have complained about the lack of consultation, saying they returned home to find the cameras installed.

Shadow Minister for Housing Mark Parton said he is still perplexed as to why the cameras were installed, and then what influenced the Government to take them down only a few days later.

“I had a number of conversations with people in that space and they said it was all a complete surprise to them,” Mr Parton said.

“When you come home one day and rock up to your complex and there are four of them, you just wonder ‘what the hell is going on here?’

“Nobody has a clue what Big Brother Barr’s surveillance experiment is about because just as soon as the cameras were up, they have quickly been removed.”

Public housing residents came home this week to see newly installed CCTV cameras covered with barbed wire.

While some of the cameras were taken down, two cameras remained at Braddon Court and one was still at Kanangra Court but had been folded down as of Thursday night (25 June) when Mr Parton posted a Facebook video regarding the cameras.

The Government said the cameras were installed to increase security and reduce the need for on-site security personnel but admitted it was a mistake to install the cameras without consulting tenants.

“While Housing ACT discussed the initiative with stakeholders as part of canvassing options to make the site safe, consultation with tenants had not been undertaken,” a Government spokesperson said.

“The cameras were pre-emptively installed to the site without the necessary consultation. The cameras should not have been installed and as such have been removed.

“It is important to note that the cameras were not recording or transmitting footage whilst they were on site. The cameras that were installed all pointed into the common areas and carpark areas of the complex to ensure tenants’ privacy.”

The ACT Government spent $8,000 installing and removing the cameras between 17 June and 25 June 2020.

Although tenants were not consulted, a working group had been established in 2019 to address inadequate lighting and safety measures, a Government spokesperson said.

“In early 2019, a working group was formed to ensure the safety of residents, people on-site (such as Housing ACT staff, programmed maintenance and social workers) and the public in the area.

“Further to this, in October 2019 Housing ACT commenced the Connecting Communities strategy along the Ainslie Avenue precinct. This strategy is a new tenancy model which focuses on obtaining better social outcomes for residents of the Ainslie precinct, as well as the broader Canberra community.”

Mr Parton called it has been “a pretty nasty ordeal for tenants who weren’t consulted let alone warned”.

*This story has been updated to include comments from an ACT Government spokesperson.


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37 Responses to UPDATED: “Soviet-style” CCTV cameras put up at public housing locations
Ivan Rostov Ivan Rostov 12:11 pm 29 Jun 20

I understand that some people are conditioned from their Cold War childhood to characterize everything they do not like as to be the “Soviet-style”. From my side I can say that I grew up in the Soviet Union and do not recall any cameras in residential areas or streets. In fact, the famous novel “1984” by George Orwell, which many saw when released as a satire on the Soviet Union, looks to me to be more about the 21st century West, Australia included. Looking in past, I see the Soviet Government with its notorious KGB to be a hopeless loser in matter of control over citizens when compared with the present-day counterparts in Western countries.

Matthew McGranahan Matthew McGranahan 7:33 am 28 Jun 20

The cameras are pointing into common areas and are there for safety.

The only issue I see is that residents were not informed. Other than that there really isn't an issue at all.

I noticed he is walking around Ainslie Ave....

Andrew Douglas Andrew Douglas 12:09 am 28 Jun 20

"Ordeal" 🤣

Jim Jim Jim Jim 8:36 pm 27 Jun 20

This isn’t some big brother conspiracy. The amount of ice being dealt in the ACT is insane. If you’ve seen firsthand what it does physically to people and the surrounding suburbs with crime etc welcome these cameras with open arms...

Tim Pratten Tim Pratten 7:49 pm 27 Jun 20

Come to my house where I installed my own cctv. Make sure you smile for me.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 7:49 pm 27 Jun 20

I live near these units. I was wondering what these things were.

The tenants are as well behaved as any other random group of human beings. To be honest, I see more community spirit at work, with neighbours looking out for neighbours, than I see in the average suburb.

These are people’s homes we're talking about. People have an expectation of freedom and privacy as much as any one else. What narrow-minded bureaucrats thought up this scheme?

Sure, have security cameras in places where people are at risk. Civic on a drinking night, for example. But not around people’s homes.

Crime can always be dealt with through the legal system in the usual ways. There’s no need to say that some groups of people - public housing tenants, for example - are in any way less deserving of privacy and security from the state than any other group.

The only difference is that they may not have as much in their pockets as some, and that is the precise reason we as a community provide public housing; to try to give everybody a bit of shelter and dignity. We should maybe have our most vulnerable citizens sleeping in the parks and in bus stops? We're better than that.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:37 pm 27 Jun 20

Details of the ACT Social Credit System will presumably be released after the October election.

Steven Knight Steven Knight 5:25 pm 27 Jun 20

Lol every needs to understand you do not own your housing house or foot path not to mention they are not looking in your windows. I hopethey put them around where I am because thats extra security.

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 3:56 pm 27 Jun 20

As per usual, we see an article concerning public housing that goes halfway around the world while missing the obvious centre of attention: how to deal with the miscreants that give all public housing tenants a bad name. I’ve seen up close the problems that the miscreants can cause in terms of messy properties that spoil otherwise neat residential areas, anti-social behaviour that disrupts the lives of neighbouring residents and, perhaps worst of all, the constant spectre of crime on your doorstep. I’ve been assured in the past that no more than around 3% of public housing tenants create these sorts of problems for their neighbours and others living in the broader local area. Well now it seems that the most effective way to address the problems created by these miscreants is to spy on everyone, including those who play by the rules. Would it not be more effective risk management for Housing ACT to strictly enforce its own tenancy rules, with a focus in resource terms on dealing with the troublemakers and other problem tenants? The rule should be, especially in terms of criminal or other anti-social behaviour, or failure to pay rent, an initial focus on improving the conduct of such problem tenants, followed by firmer action up to and including eviction for those who simply refuse to play by the rules even when offered every facilitation to do so. Perhaps this could be done on a “3 strikes and you’re out basis”. Enforce the standing tenancy requirements firmly and I think we’d soon see a marked improvement not only in property management outcomes but also in the level of crime, anti-social behaviour and disruption to neighbouring residents. Then we wouldn’t need spy cameras would we? But this is beyond a tired old hubristic government isn’t it?

David Gillmer David Gillmer 12:12 pm 27 Jun 20

If the place is dangerous then these cameras are not going to protect anyone, put a patrol on, gee who could do that? isn't there this government mob who specialise, you know, ACT Policing...

grim123 grim123 11:11 am 27 Jun 20

Maybe the cameras were put there due to them being high crime areas?

No different to the CCTV cameras in Civic.

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 10:14 am 27 Jun 20

I’m a tenant in one of those blocks of units. As far as I’m aware, there are no issues here that would require surveillance. This may not have been the case some years past - quite a number of years ago. At that time there were 2 security guards doing the rounds. But now, several years on, there’s no obvious reason and I found these surveillance cameras, in internal courtyards, to be VERY intrusive. I may live in social housing but that shouldn’t take away my privacy - or the privacy of my daughter who visited from Sydney for a few


    Alex Warne Alex Warne 10:37 am 27 Jun 20

    Trish Roberts there’s no reason? Are you kidding me??! Or yourself? That area of Canberra is a crime hotspot. Not to mention that housing keeps allowing community organisations such as Vinnie and Banardos to house people as young as 16 there. I’ve personally spoken to a number of current tenants - the overwhelming majority were scared to live there but had no other option. I’ve also lived in one of these units many many moons ago and found it extremely confronting... no one should have to get used to the noise of doors getting kicked in... cameras need to go in to catch those responsible for making others lives more difficult.

    Sue Skinner Sue Skinner 2:21 pm 27 Jun 20

    Agree. It's confronting but the ice & other drug issues create a really scary environment for people who just want to live an ordinary life there. Especially at night when those looking for a hit are up & about.

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 2:45 pm 27 Jun 20

    I’ve lived here for a long time, and certainly in earlier years there were issues, and living here was hell. But not right now. I’m aware of other blocks where there are issues; possibly they could have put the cameras there.

Geoff Roberts Geoff Roberts 7:39 am 27 Jun 20

If tenants have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear. I think there should be more security cameras in problem areas.

    David Malcolm David Malcolm 10:02 am 27 Jun 20

    Clinton Berry no such thing as privacy in public areas.

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 10:07 am 27 Jun 20

    David Malcolm It’s not a public area. It’s an internal courtyard.

    Tim Mitchell Tim Mitchell 11:35 am 27 Jun 20

    Trish Roberts ie a public area of the complex. If ACT Government was offering to put up cctv around my complex shared areas I'd be thanking them for helping our security. Too many security incidents recently.

    Brice Smith Brice Smith 9:47 pm 27 Jun 20

    Those who would give up their liberty for freedom deserve neither.

    Geoff trying to reframe the problem with the ad hoc fallacy.

    So I’ll respond with a simple Ok Boomer.

Acton Acton 11:33 pm 26 Jun 20

Hahaha – well reported Mr Parton. The Labor/Greens Police state was obviously embarrassed being caught out putting cameras up before the election. Just wait until after.
“‘Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.”

    JC JC 5:44 am 29 Jun 20

    I am assuming you don’t have a smart phone?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:49 pm 29 Jun 20

    A smart person doesn’t need a smart phone, JC. I assume that you don’t have one either.

Ray Ez Ray Ez 10:28 pm 26 Jun 20

So the people who are doing nothing wrong are upset that they are being watched when in PUBLIC doing nothing wrong?

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 10:18 am 27 Jun 20

    The cameras weren’t in “PUBLIC,“ as you call it, but in internal courtyards. I wonder if they could have filmed through windows if the curtains were open? What about my daughter from Sydney who stayed here for a few days? The cameras were filming her, too, and aimed straight at her bedroom.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:06 pm 26 Jun 20

“Mysteriously taken down”

They’ve been nicked.

Steven Harris Steven Harris 8:54 pm 26 Jun 20

There is a much less conspicuous camera on the corner of Jim Pike Avenue and Point Hut Road in Gordon. Been there since at least Christmas. No reason for it that I can see, just Big Brother doing his thing.

    Nick Oakes Nick Oakes 1:49 pm 27 Jun 20

    Another one recently appeared on sulwood drive at the walkers spot.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 11:09 pm 27 Jun 20

    Steven Harris no reason for that one ?

    Check out the burn our tyre marks on Point Hut Road for your explanation

    Brett Amanda Le Maher Brett Amanda Le Maher 7:32 am 28 Jun 20

    Steven Harris there out there for a legal dumps litter

    Steven Harris Steven Harris 10:56 pm 28 Jun 20

    Ben Jones so get a patrol down there once in a while. Any Saturday night you could have one copper up on the hill with a radio directing a car to the noise of the idiots fanging. You'd have all the cars confiscated and off the streets in a couple of hours and not infringe on anyone else's privacy.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 5:33 am 29 Jun 20

    Steven Harris people’s privacy ?

    It’s at an intersection..

Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 8:50 pm 26 Jun 20

Communism at its best

bannas bannas 6:56 pm 26 Jun 20

What’s the big deal? Don’t most apartment developments have CCTV these days? I grant that few would be this ugly, but no-one can claim they are covert

Michael Cameron Michael Cameron 6:20 pm 26 Jun 20

Cheaper then having people stake out the area. They must have found who they were looking for!

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