Family 'absolutely shattered' after son's funeral exemption rejected

·News Reporter
·3-min read

The family of an eight-year-old boy who drowned last week while on a school camp is "absolutely shattered" their request to have more than 10 people at his funeral was denied. 

Skye Meinen was contacted by Victoria Health's exemption team ahead of her son Cooper Onyett's funeral this morning to be told the community event was not permitted to go ahead.

Ms Meinen took to Facebook to inform those who were planning to attend, asking them not to show up to the memorial, which took place at 11am. 

Cooper Onyett, 8, is pictured.
Cooper, 8, drowned during a school trip to a pool last week. Source: GoFundMe

"Our hearts are absolutely shattered that we cannot continue with a celebration for Coops,” Ms Meinen wrote to the social media site, according to the Herald Sun. 

"Once this bulls**t dies down, we will be able to have the celebration for Cooper that we have dreampt (sic) up the last couple of days.

"I understand you’ll all be as disappointed and as angered as us, but, we cannot do anything, so, please, don’t put (anyone) at risk of fines or litigation. We will get our day when the time’s right."

Sutton visibly emotional after request denied

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton appeared visibly upset on Friday while telling reporters the exemptions team had been in touch with the boy's family to assess their request.

Cooper died while at the Belfast Aquatics pool in Port Fairy, in Victoria's southwest, where he was visiting with his grade two class from Merrivale Primary School in Warrnambool.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton addressing the media.
Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton appeared emotional while addressing the death of Cooper Onyett on Friday. Source: Nine

Ms Meinen, issued a plea on Thursday for the community to be exempt from Victoria's seven-day lockdown restrictions that came into force overnight.

"We really need support from family and friends to get through this. 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," she told 3AW.

Professor Sutton described the matter "the most tragic circumstance" during Friday's coronavirus update.

"I can't express enough my sorrow for the family," he told reporters while explaining he wasn't personally involved in the decision.

"The exemptions team did speak to the family and did assess the request... and I understand that the request was declined."

He said such matters were "the most difficult decisions for the exemptions team to make and it will be weighing extremely heavily on them". 

"But our thoughts are with the family at such extraordinarily difficult times," he said. 

Acting Premier James Merlino also offered his condolences to Cooper's family, describing their loss an "awfully tragic case".

Mr Merlino said the decision to decline the family's request was made in the interest of the broader public's health. 

Four new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Friday, three of which are associated with the Whittlesea outbreak and one is a close contact of a positive case of the Stratton Finance, Port Melbourne outbreak. 

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