You would think that an industry like ours would be heavily regulated in Australia and that there would be a whole range of compliance and regulatory issues that Funeral Directors are required to adhere to. You would think that, but you would be very wrong.
The Funeral Industry is a relatively unregulated industry here in Queensland, with exception to a few areas of our industry:
- Pre-Paid Funerals – Funeral Benefit Business Act 1982
- Cremation (Crematory Operators) – Cremations Act 2003
- Funerals after Coronial investigation – Coroners Act 2003
- Funeral Directors – Code of Conduct (Voluntary)
There are also some local government requirements for applying for and operating a facility that holds a mortuary, but this is more around waste and environmental concerns rather than bringing a consistent standardisation to our industry and in all reality, they don’t really have a solid understanding of what happens in a mortuary, so these processes are protracted and more often than not unnecessary.
In Queensland, the last time that the government took some time to review our industry was almost 15 years ago and that was primarily focussed on Cemeteries and Crematoriums. Recently they reviewed their own coronial system and how it interacted with the Justice Department, Queensland Police Service and Queensland Health and the outcomes of that review weren’t surprising to us in the industry. It basically said that the left hand wasn’t talking to the right hand and neither hand had taken the time to meet their arms. Anyone who has had dealings with the Coronial system after losing a loved one, would tell you that the system is broken.
As Funeral Director’s we are pretty much left to our own devices and there is no consistent set of standards required from us. We choose to adhere to the voluntary Funeral Directors Code of Conduct that the Queensland Government created, however it’s not something that we are held to account to by any government department and funeral companies aren’t required to adhere to it at all, it is simply a “recommended code of conduct”.
We are an industry that is in dire need of regulation and not just regulation for the sake of regulation, but meaningful, accountable standards. There are so many funeral homes out there who don’t share our focus on standards and who do things that would be considered appalling in the court of public opinion. However, from a government perspective, our industry is not a priority, which is disappointing to those of us who are crying our for regulation.
Whilst some people may see regulations as being red tape and unnecessary, we think that regulating our industry would assist families in the long run but providing a clear set of standards that each funeral company is required to adhere to and be held accountable for. This would go a long way in helping to bring back a sense of honour, trust and credibility to the funeral industry and would no doubt mean that some of the more dodgy operators out there, would cease trading and would not be able to cause anymore damage to our industry.
There are a number of Funeral Associations that exist and their purpose is to set standards and to create opportunities for industry and professional development, yet like most associations, they are run by private companies with their own agenda and more often than not, they don’t adhere to their own set of standards. So when you really look at it, there is no real benefit to being part of these associations either. The only real outcome that will help drive our industry forward, is the government taking a proactive approach and collaborating with industry to regulate.
If you want some information on the funeral industry, how we are regulated or have some ideas to share, why not get in touch with us on 1300 043 522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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