Port News
9 June 2022

A push to bring the Tender Funerals’ not-for-profit funeral service model to the region started with a working group formed in 2019.

The group of volunteers launched into fundraising, community engagement and community education.

They staged events and market stalls.

The working group completed the administrative background to establish the incorporated organisation and transitioned to being volunteer members of the board.

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

A fundraising campaign reached $30,000.

Tender Funerals Mid North Coast has connected with community services networks in the Hastings, Kempsey and Manning areas.

The region’s first not-for-profit funeral service launched during a gathering at its newly built site in Wauchope on Thursday, June 2.

Ms Juelicher said we live in a society that has its doors firmly closed on death.

“But by denying death, by not talking about death we have disempowered ourselves,” she said.

Tender Funerals encourages open conversations.

Ms Juelicher urged people to be informed, talk to each other and their families, and plan ahead.

“This is a gift we can give each other because 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.

The launch was a celebration of the community effort behind bringing Tender Funerals to the Mid North Coast.

About 70 people attended the launch including philanthropic funders, project partners, board members, residents who have volunteered on working groups and businesses that have provided skills and expertise along the way.

Ms Juelicher said as a community-based, not-for-profit organisation and registered charity, Tender makes funerals more affordable, and will provide more choice.

“Our credo determines that everything we do is done with kindness, openness to cultural and individual differences and deep respect,” she said.

The Tender Funerals Mid North Coast board chairperson, Janet Geronimi, speaking at the launch, said what you see here today is a culmination of more than three years’ work.

She said the launch was a celebration of Tender Funerals Mid North Coast and honouring the history, while glimpsing to the future with confidence and hope.

Tender Funerals Mid North Coast is one of the options for funeral services.

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 taught the funeral industry about flexibility and agility.

She believes there will always be a place for funerals with grief research showing the importance of the ritual of a funeral service to say goodbye.

“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.”

Livestreaming 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.

The Australian Funeral Directors Association, formed in 1935, is the peak industry body.

In NSW, if family or the person’s estate does not have the money or assets to pay for a funeral, a so-called “destitute funeral” may be available when government support can cover the cost of a basic funeral.