Greens call for Government-led compensation for First Nations funeral policyholders
“We struggle to survive in this Country, and we can’t even rest in peace,” said Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe. This comes as funeral funds at Youpla Group went into liquidation last month, leaving up to 15 000 First Nations people out of pocket for funeral expenses.
“My nan, Edna Brown, founded the Aboriginal Funeral Benefits Fund to stop First Nations people being buried as paupers in unmarked graves. That was in the 1960s. In 2022, our family members are being left in morgues while community saves for sorry business, or they face being buried as paupers! It’s devastating.”
“In 2019, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry recommended urgent regulation of the funeral insurance industry, noting that it exploited First Nations communities. What has this Government done about it?”
“The Coalition allowed Youpla Group to continue to trade and target First Nations people. This Government's failure to regulate the industry has caused these losses, they have a duty to compensate policyholders. This is about dignity. This is about respect.”
“This could be resolved by a Government, who seem to have no trouble bailing out their mining and corporate mates. The hypocrisy of this Government, to facilitate the ongoing loss and pain in our communities is a national shame,” said Thorpe.
“They built trust with their name and then took money from vulnerable people. We’re not talking about people with big incomes, they were taking money from some policyholders that would have been equal to about 25% of their small income,” said Ngemba woman and Greens candidate for Parkes Trish Frail.
NSW Greens senate candidate David Shoebridge said the Morrison government’s failure to protect policyholders means it now has a responsibility to compensate them.
“Vulnerable people were preyed on under the Morrison government's watch, it’s time to ensure that First Nations policyholders are protected financially while they are grieving,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Wiradjuri woman, Beverly Roberts joined one of Youpla’s funds in 1994, soon after she’d lost 4 family members in the space of a year. She covered herself and close family members, most recently paying the funeral fund up to $87 a fortnight.
“When I joined twenty eight years ago I wasn’t a diabetic, and I didn’t have leukemia. Now that I have those diseases, what are my chances of another funeral fund covering me? None!”
“Who’s going to pay for my funeral now? All that money is gone and I’m so wild about it.”
The Greens are proposing two forms of relief:
- For the Government to honour the policies to cover funeral expenses for any death of a First Nations policyholder of the Youpla Group.
- To repay insurance premiums paid by all other First Nations policyholders over the past decade so that they can have a reserve available to meet funeral expenses.