Apr 16, 2021

Australian aged care home pays $22 million in rent to Greek Orthodox Church – despite receiving taxpayer dollars

Elderly woman praying in wheelchair

In a recent report by the ABC, it was revealed that aged care homes across the country have paid millions of dollars in rent and fees to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. 

A number of aged care homes around the country owned by the Orthodox church, with each home also taxpayer funded, have cumulatively funnelled $31 million in fees back into the church. 

St Basil’s in Melbourne, the home at the centre of one of the deadliest outbreaks of coronavirus, has reportedly paid over $22 million to the church over the last eight years, despite a commercial real estate agent reporting that to be well over double the rental market rate. 

Archbishop Makarios arrived in Australia in the middle of 2019. Greeted by thousands of people at his enthronement in Sydney, Archbishop Makarios took over the job of overseeing the church’s schools, parishes and aged care homes. 

During his tour of the country in his first few months, some within the church commented on the new Archbishop’s lavish lifestyle, noting the apparent excess for a man who had taken a vow of poverty. 

During his time in the position, Archbishop Makarios has driven in a “black Holden Caprice with dark tinted windows, a flag and a personalised number plate ordered just for him: ARCHBM.” 

He has also been adorned in lavish ceremonial gowns, made of brightly coloured silks and wools with gold embroidery, that are estimated to cost up to $30,000 per garment. These ceremonial robes are in stark contrast to predecessor, the late Archbishop Stylianos, who conducted his role in conservative black cotton robes. 

Since then, sources within the church have said that a $3 million renovation was done on the apartment and the Archbishop has since moved in. According to the ABC, the Archdiocese has said that the renovations were paid for by a private donor and that claims made on the Archbishop’s lifestyle were “discourteous and ill-founded”. However, concerns have persisted that much of this lifestyle is being paid for by the church’s aged care homes.  

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese owns an extensive number of aged care facilities around the country, with the Archbishop overseeing all of them. Of these facilities, 15 of them are publicly funded by taxpayers, receiving aged care funding from the federal government. Some of these homes are passing money directly to the church, with a total $31 million transferred in the last eight years. During this time, many of the homes were reportedly operating at a loss. 

Over the last eight years, St Basil’s has received nearly $73 million in taxpayer’s money through government funding. 

According to the ABC’s report, families of people living in the home prior to the virus outbreak reported party pies and sausage rolls being served as dinners without salads or other items of nutritional value. 

They also reported outdated record-keeping systems, which often caused mix-ups and loss of identification for some residents. A trainee nurse also allegedly witnessed significant evidence of neglect, including unemptied catheters, severe infections, missing medical records, unmanaged clinical waste, and no pager systems, sensors or equipment, alleging that should a resident use their call bell, no one on staff would be able to respond. 

Reports of the circumstances coming out of the home have caused many to question where the money received has gone to improve the lives of residents, only being pushed further upon the discovery of the high costs paid to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. 

HelloCare reached out to St Basil’s for comment, however, they declined to respond as per instructions from their lawyers. 

HelloCare also contacted the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for their response, but at the time of publication, had not received a reply. 

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  1. The attitude of this Church towards its aged care consumers and staff is perhaps mirrored in its recent appointment to the CEO role in New South Wales of an individual who has previously come to the attention of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. And yet despite these published concerns was appointed to a role whose core obligation is the welfare of the consumer.

  2. I worked until recently in a Greek Orthodox Church respite day care facility in Cairns – St John of God). It was absolutely money driven. Staff were constantly harangued by a devious and bullying management for not ‘growing’ the client base and creating more revenue from government (well over $20 million per year when I left). The turnover of staff was huge, and we all sensed that something dodgy was (is still) going on. These church run facilities requires forensic auditing to follow the money trail, because it’s obvious so very much of it is not being used for the purpose intended. Nothing altruistic about the place, just a fraud upon the taxpayer’s of Australia … and worse; the care of the vulnerable.
    A pox on their house!

  3. This story continues the long trail of concerns that without 100% transparency we will never know what happens to taxpayer money that should be used to care for residents.

    It does not matter who manages the facility we need 100% transparency to ensure residents and taxpayers are not being defrauded billions, yes billions, of dollars.

  4. Whilst I agree with all the comments below, at the end of the day, if a Government does not demand accountability and transparency or pursue it, then blame the Government first. Make them accountable first. They have our taxpayers money and they are charged to administer it appropriately. If corrupt and cruel providers have avenues to exploit the system then it is natural that they will do so. Again, blame the govt. oroganisations which are toothless tigers and really serve no purpopse only window dressing for their inaction in protecting the elderly care recipients. Ticking the box by throwing money at providers does not
    constitute responsibility towards its citizens.


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