Boro Petkovic deserved better in his final hours.

His daughter Jayne deserved to learn of his death in a different way.

Through tears, she says the phone call she received after the 82-year-old Melbourne man died from Covid-19 inside the virus-plagued St Basil's Home for the Aged will "torment" her.

The conversation with a woman she had never met came just before midnight last Thursday and was the first she had heard about her father's condition for 58 agonising hours despite repeated attempts to make contact over several days.


"I'm just calling to let you know your father's passed away," the woman on the other end of the phone told Jayne.

"I lost it," Jayne says. "I was screaming. I asked her, 'Why didn't you call?'"

The response, Jayne says, was "cold and heartless".

"He was fine this morning. He was fine this afternoon. Now he's passed away," she was told.

That was followed by a barrage of questions that left Jayne feeling insulted and humiliated.

"Haven't you organised anything?" Jayne was asked. "Not even after last week?"

Then this: "Were you close?"

Jayne will never forget that question. Its callous nature. She says it is indicative of the way the Federal Government's takeover staff are treating families of the victims of the aged-care cluster at the Fawkner facility.


"She made me feel like my father was a piece of rubbish to be collected."

Boro Petkovic with his daughter, Jayne. Photo / Supplied
Boro Petkovic with his daughter, Jayne. Photo / Supplied
Boro Petkovic moved to Australia in the 1970s from Serbia. Photo / Supplied
Boro Petkovic moved to Australia in the 1970s from Serbia. Photo / Supplied

'He was a kind, gentle person'

"Dad was a happy person," Jayne says. "He was a kind, gentle person. He would help anybody who needed it. He would always be there to help."

Boro moved to Melbourne in 1973 from Serbia with his wife Nevza and his two children. He lived with the family in Richmond and later in Reservoir.

He was a labourer and he loved his family. They loved him back.

"I took care of my dad and what he needed," Jayne says. "As he was ageing, I thought it was best to sell his house. We bought a house near us, only a kilometre or so away from me.

"I'd get home from work, bring him over to the house and we'd cook with the grandkids."


Her father was a "proud man" who struggled when his memory started to go. His wife had passed away and he needed extra care.

The decision to move him to St Basil's was a difficult one but he settled in. Then Covid-19 reached Australia and everything changed.

St Basil's is not the only nursing home under siege from the virus. More than a dozen aged-care facilities in Melbourne are struggling.

The Premier has called in help from the Australian Defence Force and the Federal Government, which manages aged care, has called in specialist AUSMAT teams.

But people are still dying. And every aged-care death is devastating.