The Sydney family of a Melbourne mother-of-four who drowned after she was swept off the rocks have fought tooth-and-nail to enter Victoria for her funeral amid Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Aida Hamed was among four family members who were wiped off rocks at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula at 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Two men nearby jumped into the water to assist but Ms Hamed, a 45-year-old Australia Post worker from Lalor in Melbourne‘s north, could not be saved.
Ms Hamed’s son Daniel Hamed and his partner Alisar Najem, both 25, were worried they were about to be dealt another cruel blow in the wake of her death.
The couple live in Sydney and were fearful they would miss Ms Hamed’s funeral due to the current border closures.
They pleaded for an exemption on the Victorian health department’s Covid-19 hotline on Thursday and Friday.
Mother Aida Hamed, 45, (pictured) drowned after being wiped off rocks at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula at 3.30pm on Wednesday
Ms Najem said two different staff members hung up on her when she didn’t accept ‘we can’t help you’ for an answer to her request.
She also contacted Service NSW, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the supplied email address for Victorian border exemption permits and the COVID hotline.
They consistently said ‘we don’t know’ when the pair asked if they would be allowed to enter the southern state for a funeral.
‘We have tried every government department — I’m not joking,’ Ms Najem told NCA Newswire.
‘It’s really frustrating because, what do you mean, you don’t know? Who can help us?
‘There’s no compassion. Why aren’t they being trained to have compassion?’
Ms Najem then decided to speak to the media, which resulted in the DHHS calling at 5.40pm on Friday to confirm she would be able to enter the state.
This was just 20 minutes before her and her partner’s scheduled flight to Melbourne at 6pm.
Ms Hamed’s brother Nizar Ibrahim said his sister loved the outdoors and the beach. He said she described Bushrangers Bay as the ‘most amazing beautiful place she had seen’ before she lost her life there
A DHHS spokeswoman said: ‘Exemptions requested on compassionate grounds are top priority and processed as quickly as possible – our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.’
The family’s battle to enter Melbourne comes after Ms Hamed’s brother Nizar Ibrahim revealed his sister’s last phone call to him and his wife.
‘That day (Wednesday) she had called my wife and was telling her about this beach that she had found and how it was the most amazing beautiful place she had seen,’ Mr Ibrahim told The Herald Sun.
‘Who would have thought that this would be the place to take her.’
Mr Ibrahim said his sister was a caring woman and everyone who knew her is deeply saddened by her sudden death.
‘We are currently going through a hard time to accept what has happened,’ he said.
Mr Ibrahim wants to raise money for Ms Hamed’s four children – three in Melbourne and her son in Sydney.
Gut-wrenching footage showed Ms Hamed and her family being swept off rocks by a wave on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on Wednesday afternoon
Ms Hamed’s 16-year-old daughter begins her VCE studies this year but will do so without the guidance of her mother.
Her 19-year-old daughter and her friend, 47, both survived being swept off the rocks and are now at Frankston Hospital in stable conditions.
Ms Hamed’s 13-year-old daughter and two men, aged 28 and 47, also survived but have since been discharged.
‘We are deeply saddened at the passing of Aida Hamed,’ an Australia Post spokesman said in a statement to AAP.
‘We extend our deepest sympathies to Aida’s family and colleagues at this sad time.’
Friends have taken to social media to pay tribute to Ms Hamed, with one calling her ‘a true angel’.
‘No words can be said to describe the pain of losing you,’ another friend said.
‘You brought happiness to everyone that met you with your gorgeous smile and warming heart, we will miss you forever.’
One of her other friends said: ‘You will always be my sunshine, my beautiful friend. You were taken from us way too soon’.
Bushrangers Bay Beach is unpatrolled and according to Life Saving Victoria, ‘moderately safe when waves are low’.
But it warns swimmers should ‘stay on the bar and clear of the rocks and rips’.
Ms Hamed (pictured) was among four people who were at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck when they were swept off rocks on Wednesday afternoon
Police said had the two men not gone in to help, more people could have died, The Age reported.
‘If they hadn’t done that, I think more people (would have) drowned, more people (would have) lost their life,’ Mornington Peninsula Local Area Commander Inspector Janene Denton said.
Ms Hamed was one of three people to die in separate incidents along Victoria’s coast on Wednesday.
The second death was at Venus Bay in Gippsland.
A woman in her 20s was pulled from the water after going in to help save a teenage girl who was seen struggling to swim.
An off-duty lifeguard performed CPR but the woman could not be saved.
The third death was that of a man in his 80s, brought to shore unconscious at the popular Rye Front Beach in Tootgarook, also on Wednesday afternoon.
All three incidents will be investigated by a coroner.
The group were at Bushrangers Bay near Cape Schanck (pictured) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on Wednesday afternoon when tragedy struck