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Funeral exemption denied for boy who drowned at school camp

Published: in Australian News by .

A small funeral has been held this morning for a Victorian boy who tragically drowned whilst on school camp.

A small funeral has been held this morning for a Victorian boy who tragically drowned on a school camp.

Cooper Onyett, 8, drowned in a pool at Belfast Aquatics in the rural Victorian town of Port Fairy just before 11am last Friday.

His memorial took place with a group of 10 loved ones in Warrnambool at 11am after the state government knocked back the family's request for an exemption to hold a larger service due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

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Acting Premier James Merlino said the family's denied exemption request was a public health decision.

"These are matters and decisions of public health," he said.

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"This is an awfully tragic case of a child who drowned whilst on a school camp - every parent's worst nightmare.

"In terms of exemptions, I did ask the public health team to reach out to the family, and I know that they did."

The eight-year-old was on his first overnight camp with his Year 2 class from Merrivale Primary School at the time of his death.

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Under stage four lockdown restrictions which came into effect today, a maximum of 10 people can attend funerals along with those running the service.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton did not explain why the request was denied today but gave his condolences to the grieving family.

"This is the most tragic circumstances, I cannot express my sorrow for the family," he said.

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"The exemptions team did speak to the family and did assess the request. I was not involved in this personally.

"I understand that the request was declined. I do not know the decision behind it.

"I think these are the most difficult decisions for the exemptions team to make. It will be weighing heavy on them, but our thoughts are with the family at such difficult times."

Devastated mother Skye Meinen told 3AW yesterday the cap placed on funerals had made an already difficult time worse and implored for an exemption.

"I'm just hoping that we can gain some sort of exemption," she told Neil Mitchell.

"We've got a whole school that's mourning for a friend."

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Ms Meinen said their family needed community support to get through the tragedy.

"We really need support from family and friends to get through this," she said.

"We've all been so strong and to rip away the support that we've really opened to is just something that I just think would be detrimental."

Source: 9News

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