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Help for victims of failed Aboriginal funeral fund

Councillor Trish Frail has been lobbying for an investigation into the Youpla funeral funds. Photo TWH

There may yet be hope for customers in places like Bourke, Brewarrina, Lightning Ridge, and Walgett, who have paid money into the collapsed Youpla indigenous funeral fund.

The Federal government has agreed to a multi-million-dollar interim solution to guarantee policies until November 30 next year for customers who were active from April 1, 2020.

While that will ease the pain for some, there are many local families who will suffer financial loss.

Brewarrina Shire Councillor, Trish Frail, has been lobbying for support for victims of the collapsed funeral fund, and is calling for an investigation into how the company was able to exploit Aboriginal clients for so long.

“In our area we have people who have passed away and have been affected,” Clr Frail said.

“It affected somebody in my family - she was so proud that she had paid for her funeral costs, and after she passed away - it wasn’t, and that affected the family badly.

“It’s good that the Federal government has stepped in to help.” she said.

Aaron Davis, CEO of the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) said despite the lifeline offered by the government, thousands more people will be impacted.

Mr Davis said the collapse of Youpla and the failure of regulatory bodies to investigate its dealings will worsen poverty in indigenous communities.

“The government is offering a good interim plan that will address the issue of bodies in morgues or people having to give their loved one a pauper’s funeral,” Mr Davis said.

“Hopefully these people will be reimbursed.”

New Federal Assistant Treasurer, Stephen Jones, said the behaviour of the company was ‘abhorrent’ and pledged the Albanese government would go after the directors, who had slipped through the regulatory net for more than 30 years.

Mr Jones said government would ‘stand in the shoes’ of the insurer and honour eligible claims as an interim arrangement for 12 months and would consult with Aboriginal communities for a permanent solution.

Read more local news in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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