Illawarra Mercury
15 June 2022

A community-based model to ensure funerals don’t leave loved ones in mountains of debt is finally taking off around the country, thanks to a dedicated group in Port Kembla.

Not-for-profit Tender Funerals has just expanded with a funeral service opening this month on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

Founder of the model Jenny Briscoe-Hough said this was only the beginning for expansion, with the organisation working with community groups in the Western Sydney, Canberra, Far North Queensland, Tasmania and in Western Australia.

All should be open within the next three to five years.

“Once people understand and see what Tender is, everyone’s going to want one,” Ms Briscoe-Hough said.

“In a way that thought has always been there, it’s not surprising that people want one.”

They also allow people to send-off their loved ones in the way they want, not just through a traditional large gathering at a funeral home.

Ms Briscoe-Hough said to get the Mid-North Coast service up and running, they had 51 volunteers constantly fundraising and working with them for years to get it happening.

“All these people are doing this work and doing it because they want their community to have their service,” she said.

“It’s like they’re giving a big gift to their community and often people don’t realise they need it until they need it.”

Ms Briscoe-Hough is excited more people in Australia will be given the choice to have an affordable yet meaningful funeral, as one size does not fit all.

She said the need has always been there though a lack of knowledge and education, as well as lack of services has been a hindrance in the past.

“There’s always been a need for people to know what their choices are,” Ms Briscoe-Hough said.

“It’s not rocket science to choose, it’s just about understanding of what’s possible and having a funeral service that reflects what they want.”

Tender Funerals Mid North Coast general manager Denis Juelicher said the community support had been incredible.

“By denying death, by not talking about death we have disempowered ourselves,” Ms Juelicher said.

“When a loved one dies it can be hard to make good decisions, and information and planning go a long way in creating a process and a ceremony that is meaningful and facilitates healthy bereavement.”

She said everything they do is done with kindness, openness to cultural and individual differences and deep respect.

Australian Funeral Directors Association NSW/ACT Division president Asha Dooley said consumers had a lot of choice in funerals.

“If they are not happy with one funeral firm, they can in most cases, literally walk down the street and go to another firm,” she said.

Miss Dooley said the pandemic showed the funeral industry they need to be flexible and agile.

“I am seeing a greater tendency for families to want to have their own stamp on things, and really make it [funerals] unique, and I think the future will go more and more in that direction,” Miss Dooley said.

“I think as an industry, we are going there with client families and we will continue to go there more and more.”

Live-streaming of funeral services is far more common as a result of the pandemic.

Miss Dooley predicts technology will become more important in the future and face to face conversations will remain important when organising a funeral.