Funerals are never easy. When grieving the loss of a loved one, arranging a funeral is one of the most difficult things we will ever be asked to do. Some may find it further compounds the grief felt; and some may find that it helps with the grieving process. To help make arrangements at a difficult time and also for customary reasons, the vast majority of people in Australia will turn to a funeral director.
Given the importance the funeral director holds in the process, there is a general expectation from the public that there is some form of regulation or statutory oversight with which funeral directors must comply.
Note: At the time of writing this article, the Scottish Government have just announced the introduction of a ‘progressive licensing’ scheme by the end of 2020 for funeral directors in Scotland.
Where are the State regulators?
Although industry associations, such as the Australian Funeral Directors Association, have adopted voluntary Codes of Conduct for their members, most funeral directors are not members of any association, which is contributing to some of the shocking practices highlighted in recent media investigations and reports.
Peter Erceg, owner and founder of eziFunerals said ‘It’s about time that state regulators took the funeral industry more seriously!
Erceg says, ‘The time has come for government and the industry to agree on a statutory code of practice to be adopted in Australia as a first step in setting out good standards of practice for funeral directors to comply.
Appointment of Funeral Inspectors
‘The adoption of any industry code of practice should also include the appointment of funeral inspectors and annual inspections of funeral directors’, says Erceg.
Unlike other government licensed businesses, such as nursing homes and food businesses (public health inspectors), funeral homes are not subject to any inspection regime to ensure they are meeting their licensing requirements.
Erceg says ‘State regulators should be required to conduct annual funeral home inspections, which include a comprehensive checklist to ensure compliance with running a reputable funeral home. The inspections should check on items such as, whether advertising is accurate, if pricing is clear and available, the effectiveness of mortuary equipment and whether remains are properly identified.
Only then will the public have confidence with the industry. This new inspection regime will also protect funeral business operators already doing the right thing, by weeding out backyard operators who are giving the industry a bad wrap’, Erceg says.