Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton says he wasn’t involved in a decision not to provide an exemption to the cap on mourners at the funeral for a Melbourne boy who tragically drowned while on school camp.
However Sutton did tell reporters his thoughts were “with the family” at such an “extraordinarily difficult” time.
Cooper Onyett drowned at a Port Fairy indoor swimming pool last week while on his first overnight camp with his grade two class from Merrivale Primary School.
His family had organised to hold his funeral in their hometown of Warrnambool, 250km west of Melbourne, on Friday – which is the first day of the state’s seven-day lockdown.
Under the restrictions, funerals are restricted to ten mourners, plus those required to conduct the service.
Cooper’s mother Skye had asked the government for an exemption and during Thursday’s press conference Acting Premier James Merlino said it would be considered.
But the exemption is believed to have been denied.
“I am really disappointed in how this has played out. The Acting Premier gave the family a glimmer of hope yesterday morning that there might be an exemption,” Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell told 7NEWS.
“She will go ahead with the funeral with just 10 people and will celebrate Cooper’s life after the lockdown.”
During Friday’s press conference Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton responded to the decision, saying it would have been one of the most difficult ones for the exemption team to make.
‘I can’t express enough my sorrow for the family.’
“I can’t express enough my sorrow for the family. The exemptions team did assess the request and speak to the family. I wasn’t personally involved,” he said
“I understand the request was declined.
“Our thoughts are with the family at such extraordinarily difficult times.”
Every parent’s worst nightmare’
On Thursday, Acting Premier James Merlino said Cooper’s death was “every parent’s worst nightmare”.
“This is a particularly tragic case … it’s every parent’s worst nightmare – giving your kids a kiss, they’re excited to go off to camp and then we have this tragic incident,” he told reporters.
A GoFundMe page set up to help the family cover Cooper’s funeral costs has already raised more than $95,000.
– With AAP