Media release: Videos highlight Wills risk for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Media release: Videos highlight Wills risk for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

8 February 2022

The risks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of not having a Will are highlighted in videos launched by Tender Funerals Australia today.

Developed for communities and service providers, the free online videos encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make a Will that sets out what they would like to happen when they pass away.

The videos feature:

  • Bobbi Murray, Barkindji/Ngiyampaa woman
  • Phil Duncan, Gomeroi Elder
  • Professor Prue Vines, author of the Aboriginal Wills Handbook

“My family knows when I leave this earth I want my body to go back to country and it’s written in my Will,” said Barkindji/Ngiyampaa woman Bobbi Murray. “I encourage all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make a Will. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s about passing on things that are important no matter what happens.”

“When an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person passes away without a Will there is a risk that decisions will be made that aren’t culturally appropriate,” said Jennifer Briscoe-Hough, General Manager, Tender Funerals Australia. “We hope these videos will empower families and communities to exercise their rights around end of life.”

The videos are available at

Media contact: Rivkah Nissim: 0407 974 934, [email protected]

Interviews are available with:

  • Jennifer Briscoe-Hough, General Manager, Tender Funerals Australia
  • Bobbi Murray, Barkindji/Ngiyampaa woman


Tender Funerals Australia is a not-for-profit organisation delivering meaningful, affordable funerals and community education on death, dying and end of life.

For more information go to

Media release: Organisations call for extra time for funeral policy holders to claim against failed funeral insurance fund

Media release: Organisations call for extra time for funeral policy holders to claim against failed funeral insurance fund

Financial Counselling Australia, Tender Funerals Australia and Social Ventures Australia (SVA) are supporting the call from Mob Strong Debt Help and the Financial Rights Legal Centre to ensure First Nations people are paid the refunds they are owed in full following the collapse of a funeral insurance fund.

We have written to Robson Cotter Insolvency Group, the administrator of the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (ACBF) No. 2 Pty Ltd, calling for an extension of the timeframe for policy holders to lodge ‘proof of debt’ forms.

The closing date for claims is currently 22 December 2021, less than a month after the administrator was appointed.

We are calling for the closing date to be extended until at least the end of February 2022.

“The closing date for claims is unfair and unreasonable, given the circumstances of some 2,000 First Nations’ policy holders who may have claims against the Fund,” said John Corker, Director of Tender Funerals Australia.

“Most policy holders live in regional or remote communities where information flow is slow and time is required for outreach to these communities,” he said.

“We are really concerned the short timeframe means many vulnerable First Nations’ consumers will miss out on claiming what they are owed,” said Financial Counselling Australia CEO Fiona Guthrie.

“It is unconscionable that First Nations people who have been harmed by the mis-selling of funeral expenses policies might lose all of what they have paid,” she said.

“SVA’s analysis of the funeral financial product market has shown us that many First Nations families participated in programs like this because they believed it would allow them to plan for a funeral with dignity. They have been misled into paying more than what their policy is worth,” said Lou Campbell, Director, SVA Consulting.

“Losing their refund will have significant personal and financial impact for these First Nations communities. An extension to the timeframe will provide an appropriate and genuine opportunity for these consumers to claim the refund they are entitled to, and avoid these negative consequences,” she said.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have funeral insurance policies with Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund Pty Ltd are urged to contact Mob Strong Debt Help at the Financial Rights Legal Centre on 1800 808 488 as soon as possible.

For further comment please contact:

  • Fiona Guthrie, CEO Financial Counselling Australia on 0402 426 835
  • Lou Campbell, Director, SVA Consulting on 0432 970 211
  • Jenny Briscoe-Hough, CEO Tender Funerals Australia on 0425 277 118

About Financial Counselling Australia

FCA is the national voice for the financial counselling profession in Australia. It is a not-for-profit organisation that works to improve hardship processes for people in financial difficulty. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty. Their services are non-judgmental, free, independent and confidential.

About Tender Funerals Australia

Tender Funerals Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that ensures that those experiencing financial hardship or distress are able to access personalised, meaningful and affordable funerals. We believe no-one should be unable to access a meaningful funeral and no-one should go into debt as a result of paying for a funeral. Tender Funerals Australia works to enable access to meaningful funerals for families and communities and support efforts to reduce funeral financial hardship.

About Social Ventures Australia Social Ventures Australia (SVA) is a not-for-profit organisation that works with partners to alleviate disadvantage – towards an Australia where all people and communities thrive.  We influence systems to deliver better social outcomes for people by learning about what works in communities, helping organisations be more effective, sharing our perspectives and advocating for change. SVA Consulting has been working with partners to tackle funeral financial hardship and developing new ways for people to prepare financially for funerals.


ACBF is owned by Youpla. The fund was only open to First Nations Peoples and Youpla were required to stop taking new members in 2004 by an undertaking given to ASIC in Federal Court proceedings.

Youpla runs two other similar funds offering funeral expense policies. The ACBF Plan was established in 2005 as a result of ACBF’s undertaking to ASIC to cease accepting new members of Fund 2. According to the Banking Royal Commission, the ACBF Plan had 13,460 policies in 2018. The Financial Rights Legal Centre has called on Youpla to clarify the future of these funds.

Many First Nations consumers are owed refunds for premiums paid to companies in the Youpla group under the false belief they were an Aboriginal community owned and controlled organisation at the time they took out their policy.

The Financial Rights Legal Centre has represented eleven policy holders in ACBF Fund 2 matters on the basis that they were misled into entering into the Fund. The Australian Financial Complaints Authority found in favour of seven of these clients with four of these clients still waiting for their refunds.  For more information see ‘Policyholder Refunds For Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund Pty Ltd No. 2 Pty Ltd At Risk’ at

Some findings made in relation to ACBF (now Youpla) in the Royal Commission were (at p. 452-6 Interim Report):

  • “there are a number of features of ACBF’s products that indicate that those products were neither tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people nor beneficial for them.
  • ACBF was the ‘only insurer with significant numbers of persons insured under 30 for whom premiums were being paid.
  • ACBF did rely on the cultural significance of funerals to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to Indigenous mortality statistics, to actively sell its policies to children and young people in those communities.
  • ACBF is not an Aboriginal organisation nor is it affiliated with any Aboriginal or government organisation.
  • ACBF engaged in conduct that fell below community standards and expectations in a number of respects.
  • ACBF is a low value product, when understood in light of the claims paid as a percentage of premiums received.”


How funerals are changing

How funerals are changing

ABC The Signal
Broadcast 19 May 2021
Listen here:

Funerals in Australia are changing.

The death rituals of past generations aren’t necessarily the right fit for people dying today, or for those of us whose deaths are hopefully further away.

Today on The Signal, we hear about the trends, and about the funerals of the future.

From body-composting to bushland burials, water-based cremations and funerals without a ceremony at all, what are the options?

And if you’re relatively fit and healthy today, how much forward planning can you do?

Dr Margaret Gibson, Senior Lecturer, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Brisbane
Amy Sagar, General Manager, Tender Funerals Illawarra and Sydney
Philip Shelley, CEO, Canberra Cemeteries


At the Community Coffin Club in Ulverstone, living and dying well are part of life

At the Community Coffin Club in Ulverstone, living and dying well are part of life

ABC Northern Tasmania
By Rick Eaves
11 August 2021
Leon Beveridge is wearing black Docs, a black shirt and even a black ‘New York’ kilt. It’s appropriate attire for a man with a rock’n’roll past, present, future and after-life.

But the punk bass player with terminal prostate cancer can’t settle on a design for his DIY coffin.

“I thought about making a road-case. Going on tour. Been through lots of iterations but I think I’ve settled on something now,” he said.

“It’s got some gothic overtones. I’ve been to New Orleans, did some voodoo stuff. It will have some ‘Day of the Dead’ stuff going on, a celebration of death, nothing morbid.”

Leon has joined fellow Community Coffin Club members at Ulverstone to celebrate five years of a club and a concept that has inspired many others facing their mortality around Australia and the world.

At this coffin club, laughter, music, food, cute dogs and shared experience lay the foundations on which to build a serious understanding of “death literacy”.

It’s about knowing what happens when you die, what happens before and after you take your last breath, and what it all means for family and friends.

Organiser Lynne Jarvis says the idea is to educate, support and empower people.

“The idea is that individuals can make their own coffin and family and friends can help with that. In itself it is a beautiful, empowering process,” she said.

“But we also have our art and death literacy space and it’s a space where anyone can come — they can bring their knitting and just say ‘hi’.”

Lynne is also secretary of Care Beyond Cure, a group that organises therapy and respite days for chronically and terminally ill people and their carers.

She said the group aimed to ease the financial and emotional burdens of those facing the challenges of severe illness or life’s final chapter.

Care Beyond Cure is also in the process of establishing Tender Funerals Tasmania, the first not-for-profit, community-owned and led funeral home for the state.

When the party’s over, the playlist goes on

Leon has had a good lash at life. He played in a number of punk bands and still does. He was part of the 100% Mambo art studio scene in Sydney, where he also worked “up the Cross”.

There was a stint as an animator in Japan.

Back in the day, he had dinner with Nick Cave a couple of times, and was friends with underground rock legends inlcuding Ian Rilen and Spencer P Jones.

Playlists matter a lot to him.

“This is my Dying, Death and After-Death Care Plan,” he says, revealing a document that specifies his end-of-life wishes.

“I’m working on a couple of playlists I want — several actually — for when I’m dying and for different situations, for after.

“Music’s been really important in my life. It’s important for me to continue with that, and it’s really emotive, it takes you to a place.

“I don’t really want a funeral. I want a really practical kind of death where I die at home, go into a box and then go off to get barbecued.

“Put some money over the bar for a celebration and get some friends to play songs.”

He said that when he first visited the coffin club, his instinct was to “just get on the tools and make something”.

“But as I learned about death literacy, preparing to die became my priority,” he said.

“Getting things down on paper and sharing it with family and friends. Medical goals with my doctor and advanced care. Having it all sorted matters most to me now.”

Readying the Tardis for another realm

In the workshop adjacent to the meeting room, Justin Martin is testing the lid of a coffin that has to be sturdy enough for his next adventure.

It’s designed to emulate a 1972 blue Tardis, as his Whovian preference is for a Tom Baker-ish Doctor Who.

Justin has Alzheimer’s Disease and no clear idea of how long the condition will take to end his life.

For now his memories of the cult BBC sci-fi program are strong, as is the inspiration he draws from it.

“I was born in 1963, the same year the show started,” Justin said.

“And that music was always there and you always knew it would be coming on again after school the next day.

“It took you as a kid from an ordinary life to another world.

“I’m building the Tardis to take me from where I am now into a different realm.

“I’ve got a full-size Tardis at home — it’s 7-foot high. I just thought what a way to go out of this world!

“What a way to travel and to be out there.”

Justin was diagnosed a little over 12 months ago and left his job soon after. He says he has troubling memories of his father’s own decline with dementia, but has found strength and kinship at the coffin club.

“People here have been like family, they welcomed me in, helped me out with so many things,” he said.

“It helps me so much with the process I’m going through.

“I come out of my shell here and I can be someone who’s weird and wonderful.

“This disease just comes at me and I’ll take every opportunity to laugh, make a bit of fun out of it and make it really good.”


Building soon to start on home for Tender Funerals Mid North Coast

Building soon to start on home for Tender Funerals Mid North Coast

Port News
By Lisa Tisdell
30 July 2021
Tender Funerals Mid North Coast is about to reach a pivotal point.

Construction of Tender Funerals Mid North Coast’s home base in Wauchope will start in August. It is hoped the service will be operational in March 2022.

Tender Funerals Mid North Coast’s Denis Juelicher said it was a very exciting time because they were very close to starting construction of a home for Tender Funerals in Wauchope.

The service will cover from Taree and Forster/Tuncurry to Coffs Harbour with its main focus in the Hastings, Taree and Kempsey.

Funding for the not-for-profit funeral service is made up of a large grant from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, a loan from specialist lender Social Enterprise Finance Australia and community fundraising.

Meanwhile, Dying to Know Day on August 8 is a national initiative by The Groundswell Project to encourage people to talk openly about death.

Tender Funerals Mid North Coast, together with Hastings Death Cafe, Die-aloguers Book Club and the Mid North Coast End of Life Doula Hub, will present a series of events across August during which people can ask questions and learn more about death and dying.

There will be screenings of the documentary, TENDER, at Port Macquarie Library on August 5 from 10am to noon and August 11 from 6pm to 8pm.

Bookings are essential, and can be made on the library website, with limited numbers due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A Tender Funerals trivia night fundraiser is set down for August 7 with tickets available on the TryBooking website. Numbers will be restricted due to COVID-19.

The community is invited to take part in a labyrinth remembrance ceremony at the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council from 10am to noon on August 8.

The ceremony will be a time for connection and shared remembering in honour of loved ones who have died, while acknowledging the losses during floods, bushfires and life in general.

“Often we underestimate the impact grief has on our lives,” Ms Juelicher said.

“To be able to come together as a community to remember and share feelings and experiences is invaluable.”

The remembrance ceremony is a free event with online bookings through TryBooking.

A death and dying expo on August 14 from 8am to 1pm at the Foreshore Markets will provide information about death and dying.

More information is available at the Tender Funerals Mid North Coast webpage.

Affordable funerals with community-run funeral service

Affordable funerals with community-run funeral service

Goulburn Post
By Neha Attre
13 July 2021
Jenny Briscoe-Hough (L), founder of Tender Funerals with Catherine Bell and Bearyn O’Donnell, directors of Tender Funerals Canberra Region after a meeting with The Snow Foundation.
The loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience. For some, the high cost of a funeral during that difficult time can be another major blow that can put them in debt for many years.
Not-for-profit Tender Funerals has brought a massive change to funeral care with its community-led approach.
“Tender Funerals believes that funerals can be affordable without compromising on a meaningful service.

“Being a not-for-profit, we work with families with low budget to help them minimise their cost so that they don’t end up with a funeral costing them $15,000,” she said.

Tender Funerals started in Port Kembla in 2016 seeking to address the financial burden of funerals.

Ms Bell is looking to replicate the service in the Canberra Region and is currently looking for suitable land which will service Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass, Cooma, Goulburn, Bungendore and Braidwood areas.

“We are asking owners of the ideal locations we have narrowed down our search to donate us the land and the building. If that happens, we will be able to offer affordable funerals to the community from the first day,” the Braidwood resident said.

Tender Funerals Canberra Region are seeking to raise $150,000 from the community as a deposit to purchase our funeral home, which is supported by The Snow Foundation and SEFA.

“So far, we have raised over $33,000 which includes a contribution of $10,000 from The Green Shed. The more funds we can raise from the community, the more we can offset our purchase, which will mean even more affordable funerals,” she added.

Once operational, they will have five employees and up to 30 volunteers from the community supporting them.

Their full range of services are accessible, inclusive and based on principles that align with people’s individual culture, values and beliefs.

Tender Funerals will also have a donation fund with a pay it forward model. These donations will be used to fund the funerals who are in need of financial assistance.

Tender Funerals Canberra Region are supported by Tender Funerals Australia and Social Ventures Australia.