There is outrage in the Greek Australian community regarding the enormous size of rent and fees which the Greek Orthodox Church has received in the past five years from St Basil’s in Fawkner – described as “a wholly owned sub-entity of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia”.
St Basil’s Homes for the Aged, the facility run under the aegis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, was charged a total of $14.6 million in rent and fees over the past five years and had an annual rent of $2.5 million last year alone by the very provider which owns it. This amount, included a $500,000 rental increase, from the previous year.
Clinton Baxter, a state director of agents Savills, which has been involved in the sale of several aged care homes in recent years told The Age that a home such as St Basil’s in Fawkner would “usually command a rental in the vicinity of $1.4 million per annum” which would equate to “$180 per week per bed”.
The home, however, has released financial records showing that it has paid from $2 to $3.65 million per annum in rent to the church in addition to a separate annual fee of between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.
On top of that, Neos Kosmos had referred to grants worth $13.1 million which the home had received from the federal government for the running of the facility in a previous article on 21 August.
The facility itself sits on three hectares of land overlooking the Merri Creek which was purchased by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia for $525,000 in 1993. More funds, however, were spent by the Archdiocese to build the facility. A source told Neos Kosmos that the Archdiocese had invested millions of dollars for the construction of the aged care provider which is equipped to house 150 residents though 120 lived there at the time of the outbreak. The same sources said the rental return is just a small portion to cover expenses with all funds paid to the Greek Orthodox Church reinvested into aged care with plans to create a new facility in Clayton along with the running of already constructed independent living units on the acreage.
There are currently close to 200 residents and staff members who have been infected by COVID-19 at St Basil’s which swept through the facility last month when the home was plunged in controversy as it became the home to the largest COVID-19 outbreak in aged care. Since then there have been dozens of deaths, with 38 residents having succumbed to coronavirus in total on Thursday.
The home is now under investigation by both the Victorian coroner in a federal probe while also being monitored by the Aged Care Quality Commissioner.
A class action against St Basil’s states that the home has neglected residents while receiving federal government grants for their care and currently has 25 families on board.
It should be noted that St Basil’s had some transparency as it submitted annual reports to the Australian Charities and not-for-profits commission. The financial reports are available for the public to read (acnc.gov.au/charity/8db4066745e0d014bfa9ea5b86d1d509#financials-documents)
Neither the Greek Archdiocese of Australia or St Basil’s Director Kon Kontis have answered questions posed by Neos Kosmos to the aged care provider concerning the rentals.