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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

St Basil’s families to speak at inquest into deaths during Victoria’s COVID-19 second wave outbreak

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Family members of residents who died from COVID-19 at a Melbourne nursing home will give evidence at an inquest into their deaths.

Victoria’s state coroner is investigating the fatal outbreak at St Basil’s Home for the Aged, with an inquest set to begin next Monday.

Twelve family members of residents who died will be among the more than 60 witnesses to be called over five weeks.

Judge John Cain asked Victoria Police to compile evidence about COVID-19 deaths at the Fawkner aged care home in August last year.

There were 45 COVID-19 deaths at the home during Victoria’s second wave outbreak, and many more cases among residents and staff.

Christine Golding, whose mother Efraxia died after contracting the virus at St Basil’s, will be the first witness called.

Peter Rozen QC, assisting the coroner, said getting through all 64 witnesses in five weeks would be a challenging exercise.

Coronavirus restrictions have also created challenges for the inquest.

Judge Cain welcomed lawyers appearing remotely, saying where they don’t need to be in court in person that would allow more family to attend.

A report on a viewing of St Basil’s by Judge Cain and Rozen will also be prepared, given COVID-19 safety measures made it impossible for all lawyers to attend as would have occurred under other circumstances.

Rozen said a final brief of evidence for the inquest, now more than 7000 pages, is expected to be completed by the end of this week.


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