Aug 27, 2020

St Basil’s paying millions to owner while residents suffer 

 

The aged care home at the centre of the Melbourne aged care COVID-19 crisis has been paying its church owner millions in rent for years.

St Basil’s Aged Care Fawkner has been at the heart of the COVID-19 crisis in Melbourne in recent months. More than 30 residents at St Basil’s have died after 195 staff and residents contracted the deadly virus. 

Residents have since launched a class action against the provider for allegedly breaching its duty of care to residents.

Now The Age is now reporting that The Greek Othodox Church, St Basil’s owner, charged the aged care home  $14.6 million in rent over the last five years.

According to St Basil’s financial records, in 2018-19 the home paid $2.5 million in rent to the Greek Orthodox Church. The previous year, it paid $2 million.

According to The Age report, a real estate agent who has been heavily involved in the aged care sector said a home such as St Basil’s, which has 150 beds, would “usually command a rental in the vicinity of $1.4 million per annum”.

Where’s the money going?

Spiros Dimitriou’s father, John, was a resident at St Basil’s, but he tragically died earlier this month after contracting COVID-19, The Age reports.

Mr Dimitriou said St Basil’s had been “well enough maintained, but it’s not the millions they are getting.”

“Where is the money going?” he asked.

Former state government minister, Theo Theophanous, a prominent member of the Greek community, told The Age, “St Basil’s pays exorbitant rent to the archdiocese and this has compromised its ability to spend funds on care for its aged residents.”

“No rent should be paid by St Basil’s to its owners.” 

Sector plagued by lack of transparency over funding

A lack of transparency around how government funds are spent in aged care has long been a bugbear of the sector.

Mr Theophanous said, “[If] the facility generates profits, these should be listed as such. 

“This would impose a moral obligation on the archdiocese to use the profits to improve facilities and service levels in its aged care facilities.”

Here we find yet another example of a well-known problem in the aged care sector – a lack of transparency in how government funds are spent – that has not been addressed, and has potentially contributed to a lack of preparedness for COVID-19, with tragic consequences. 

When will we see the necessary reform? Sadly, it might take a pandemic to get the action needed.

 

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  1. Moral obligation to improve facilities? Sure. What about the other moral obligations to actually pay tax on profits like the workers do instead of hiding actual profits in inflated management salaries, company cars and inflated rent to the church it also pays no tax on. What a sham.

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