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Funeral fund failure

    Aboriginal Flag

    CeremonyCast has added our name, signature and support to an open letter calling for the Federal Government to help those left thousands of dollars out of pocket after the collapse of a funeral fund.

    Fund failure

    The Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (ACBF), later called Youpla, was a Gold Coast-based private business that for decades aggressively sold funeral insurance. Many people who hold funeral or insurance policies under these funds, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities who have contributed to these funds, will not receive payment of any funeral or insurance benefits under their policies if a claim is made. This also means if someone passes away, money will not be paid out to beneficiaries.

    Community support groups are calling for accountability and justice, saying at least one family is collecting cans to help pay for a funeral.

    Open letter

    First Nations leaders and consumer advocates have come together to call on the incoming government to support peoples affected by the collapse of the Youpla (ACBF) funeral fund. The Save Sorry Business group is asking people to sign an open letter, which reads:

    For decades, the private funeral insurance company ‘Youpla’ (also known as ACBF) has aggressively sold poor value funeral plans to First Nations peoples.

    Now this company has collapsed, leaving thousands of people unable to access funeral plans they had paid for to cover the cost of grieving loved ones through Sorry Business.

    Funerals and Sorry Business play a special cultural role in First Nations communities. Youpla sought to deliberately exploit communities through loopholes in financial laws and consumer protections.

    Successive governments and regulators have been on notice of this misconduct and the regulatory gaps that facilitated it for nearly three decades and did nothing to prevent it.

    Over 17,000 First Nations People have lost access to a product they have paid for, and we must act. We call on the Federal Government to urgently support First Nations People who have been affected by the collapse of funeral insurer Youpla, and to ensure this can’t happen again.

    This is one of the worst financial scandals we’ve ever seen. The Youpla (ACBF) funeral fund has caused direct harms to First Nations communities by:

    ● Misleading policyholders into believing they were dealing with an Aboriginal owned or controlled
    organisation, run for the benefit of First Nations People.
    ● Aggressively selling expensive and poor value funeral plans (including via door to door sales
    tactics), and actively selling policies to children and young people.
    ● Charging unfair premiums, including higher costs for medical conditions that are most common
    amongst First Nations communities and even refusing to pay claims after suicides.
    ● Purposefully evolving its business model to avoid regulation.

    The Royal Commission exposed Youpla (ACBF) for systematic misleading and deceptive conduct. In 2018, the Commission investigated the company — but this wasn’t the first time the company has been taken to task. Youpla has been subject to complaints by First Nations People and consumer advocates for decades as well as regulatory action from ASIC including in the courts, but it was not enough to stop the poor practices continuing. The harm created by Youpla is squarely a result of an inadequate regulatory framework. The harm created by Youpla should never have been allowed to continue.

    People are hurting now. More than 17,000 First Nations People have lost funeral coverage for their families, many after decades of paying premiums. As the company has gone into liquidation, these payments cannot be recovered.

    Community organisations and financial counsellors have been inundated with hundreds of calls a day from people who are deeply distressed, betrayed and humiliated. People have paid for funeral cover to ensure their families can carry out Sorry Business and grieve together — not to be left with the challenges of intergenerational debt and hardship.

    Youpla shouldn’t have been allowed to sell these funeral policies. Now the worst has happened, we must make this right.

    Your Government has the opportunity to right this wrong and stop further harm by stepping up to support the First Nations People affected by this company’s appalling failures.


    Our donation

    CeremonyCast has donated to the Redfern Legal Centre as they support those who have been affected by the collapse of the Youpla funeral insurance fund. Redfern Legal Centre (RLC) opened its doors in 1977 and since has supported thousands of the most vulnerable members of the community gain access to justice.

    Funeral factsheet

    The RLC has also produced a factsheet offering advice on what people can do.

    Other useful links:

    About the author

    CeremonyCast Sydney Funeral Wedding Live Streaming Webcast Stephen Lee

    Written by Stephen Lee
    Owner, CeremonyCast​Professional Funeral Streaming

    Covering Sydney, Southern Highlands, Wollongong, Central Coast, Newcastle & The Hunter