The introduction of Lawyers and other non-funeral professions trading as funeral directors has raised the ire of local funeral directors.
According to eziFunerals, Founder and Owner Peter Erceg, ‘The history of funeral directors goes back for more than a century. In modern times, we have come to rely on the profession’s experience and specialist knowledge to ensure that our loved ones get the final send-off they deserve.
‘Many of the 600 independent funeral directors in Australia are long-standing, family-run businesses that can trace their roots through their local communities. All provide a modern compassionate and professional service, before, during and after the funeral service’, says Erceg.
However, in a race to the bottom the profession has started to see an influx of other trades and professions, such as tech companies and Lawyers, trading as funeral directors to unwary consumers.
“But don’t they already?” some readers might respond. True, some law firms in New South Wales is already selling bare cremation type services, as part of their legal service.
So what’s the problem?
Unlike other trades and professions, it is possible to work as a funeral director without any formal qualifications. And that’s the problem.
If you want to work as a plumber, a brickie, a painter then you will need to get a licence from the government or Board to operate. In the case of Lawyer’s in Australia you will need to apply to the local Law Society for a Practising Certificate.
According to Troy Upfield, Principal, Chapter House Funerals, the peak funeral associations, such as the Australian Funeral Directors Association are to blame. There has been a serious lack of leadership in advocating for our profession and the leaders of industry have definitely dropped the ball in protecting our professional standards’, he says.
Robert Nelson, Owner of Robert Nelson Funerals has been pushing the need for training and licensing for many years. Anyone can call themselves a Funeral Director these days, says Nelson.
As a consequence, we continue to see examples of poor practices and consumer abuses by allowing untrained professional trading in funeral directors. ‘These untrained funeral operators are not subject to any consequences by industry regulators’, says Nelson.
Robert’s concerns are supported by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, which has seen a significant decline in enrolments in Funeral Services-related qualifications. After peaking at approximately 170 in 2016, program enrolments have dropped to less than 60 enrolments in 2019 with just over 10 completions.
According to eziFunerals, ‘Our member funeral directors are not opposed to competition and we do support free enterprise and capitalism. However, we just want greater regulation and don’t understand why other professions, such as Lawyers would want to operate as Funeral Directors’.
“Should Lawyers operate as funeral directors?” As far as the free market is concerned, here’s an equally valid question: “Should funeral directors operate as Lawyers?”
eziFunerals supports individuals and families coping with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company. We are not part of any other funeral company.
Our member Funeral Directors operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Australia wide. They are chosen for their knowledge, quality, service, personalisation and experience. They go above and beyond, and will take the time to support the family.
For more information or to make contact with a trusted Independent funeral director, call eziFunerals on 1300 236 402 or visit www.ezifunerals.com.au.