What is the Bereavement Assistance Program?
The Bereavement Assistance Program provides assistance to community members in situations where there are insufficient funds in a deceased person’s estate to pay for a funeral, and when the deceased person’s family are unable to meet the funeral costs. The Program is administered by the Department of Communities.
It is distressing for anyone to lose a loved one, and the State Government recognises that it is especially difficult for some members of the community when they are unable to bury a loved one because of limited financial resources of their own. The Bereavement Assistance Program aims to provide support to these families.
What are the eligibility criteria for the Program?
- A deceased person’s partner and/or adult children will be income and assets tested to determine if they have sufficient means to fund or borrow for the funeral.
- If the deceased person’s family members have a full-time income, then assistance will generally be denied on the grounds that they have sufficient means to pay for the funeral.
- Where a family is eligible for a Centrelink bereavement package, they will usually be asked to make a contribution of approximately 50%.
- Each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and there is not an automatic entitlement based on eligibility for Centrelink benefits.
When the family of a deceased person successfully applies to the Bereavement Assistance Program, they will be expected to make some contribution towards the funeral – even if it is just a small amount.
What can be funded by the Bereavement Assistance Program?
- Funeral expenses such as a hearse, coffin, engagement of the funeral director to find pall bearers etc.
- Cremation: The Department of Communities will not cremate a deceased person, unless stipulated in a will or because of cultural or religious reasons. This is due to the possibility of undisclosed family wanting to visit a grave at a later date.
- Storage of bodies: The Department of Communities will pay for storage of a body held by a non-contracted funeral director, pending the body being claimed by an applicant, approved by the Department, and then transferred to the Department’s contracted funeral director.
- Transport: In exceptional circumstances the Department will pay for the body to be transported home after the deceased person’s family has demonstrated that it has exhausted all possible avenues of alternative funding. Examples of exceptional circumstances may include when a deceased person has been located temporarily away from home, or to return an Indigenous person to their homeland.
- Attendance of a Minister.
When the family of a deceased person successfully applies to the Bereavement Assistance Program, the funeral of the deceased person will be carried out by a funeral director that is approved and contracted by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
Where can I find out more about the Bereavement Assistance Program?
Telephone the Department of Communities Bereavement Assistance Program on free call 1800 854 925.
Where can Bereavement Assistance Program applications be processed?
Applications to the Bereavement Assistance Program must be made through your local Department of Communities metropolitan or country district office.