Former St Basil’s bosses compelled to testify at COVID-19 inquest

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Two former bosses of St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Melbourne have lost their bid to avoid testifying before the coronial inquest into the deaths of 50 residents during the August 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the provider’s Fawkner home.

Chairman Kon Kontis and Director of Nursing Vicky Kos went to the Victorian Supreme Court to review the ruling by State Coroner John Cain compelling them to give evidence, citing a potential WorkSafe Victoria prosecution and asserting that testifying at the inquest would risk self-incrimination.

However, Justice Stephen O’Meara on Monday upheld the coroner’s ruling, rejecting the duo’s case on all four grounds and saying Mr Cain had acted lawfully in compelling them to testify.

WorkSafe has hit St Basil’s with nine breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act over the outbreak, saying that the provider failed to require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by staff or adequately instruct employees in how PPE should be used.

The coronial inquest was on hold while it awaited Justice O’Meara’s ruling and can now resume at a date yet to be determined.