Assistance with Funeral Costs in Australia – 2022 Guide

Nicola Middlemiss

Nicola Middlemiss

15/06/2022

Don’t worry, there is help available to anyone struggling with the cost of a funeral.

Funerals can be expensive. In fact, a report by Australian seniors found that almost a third of families felt financial hardship after paying for a funeral. 

Thankfully, there are lots of options that can help cover the cost of a funeral, lower the overall price, or at least make it more manageable. 

This guide will cover various types of assistance, including: 

Using superannuation to cover funeral costs

Government assistance with funeral costs 

State assistance with funeral costs

Other types of assistance 

Comparing funeral costs

Using superannuation to cover funeral costs

In certain circumstances, you can use superannuation to cover funeral costs – either your own or the superannuation of the person who died.

Accessing your own superannuation 

If the person who died was considered your dependent, you can apply for early release of your superannuation on compassionate grounds. 

You can apply to have your fund release enough money to cover the death certificate, funeral service, burial or cremation, hiring costs, a coffin or urn, flowers and public advertising.

Applications for early release of superannuation must be made through the ATO. However, you should contact your super fund first, to find out about fees as well as any tax and insurance implications.

Early release of superannuation for funeral expenses can only be granted if there are no other means of covering these costs. The early release will only be granted if funeral expenses haven’t been paid yet. 

Accessing the deceased superannuation 

Alternatively, if the person who died has their own superannuation, you may be able to claim the death benefit or the funds within it. However, this process can take weeks so may not be suitable for some funerals. 

If you do want to claim a person’s superannuation, you will need to prove that you are the rightful beneficiary – this may involve proving you were listed as their beneficiary or that you’re their next of kin. 

If you’re not sure who their superannuation fund is, contact their most recent employer and then reach out to the super fund for more information. 

Government assistance with funeral costs

There are various bereavement payments and allowances that may be available to you. However, you will have to check your eligibility.

  • Centrelink offers bereavement payments to the spouse or carer of the deceased. For more information on how to apply and eligibility, go to the Centrelink website
  • The Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers a lump sum bereavement payment to the surviving partner of a veteran who received a service pension. For more information, go to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website
  • The Aboriginal Land Council offers grants to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with paying for the funeral. For more information, go to the ALC website

If you aren’t eligible for any of the assistance packages above, there are still other ways to seek government assistance with funeral costs. 

State-based assistance with funeral costs

Funeral assistance NSW

If nobody is able to pay for your loved one’s funeral, NSW may pay for a destitute funeral. However, the funeral will usually be organised by a social worker or public health officer. 

The service will be a basic cremation unless a burial is requested by the person’s next of kin. If they are cremated, the person’s next of kin are still entitled to the ashes. 

Funeral assistance VIC

In Victoria, registered charity and funeral director Bereavement Assistance offers low-cost, dignified funerals, starting from $999.

Otherwise, the Victorian state may cover the cost of a very basic funeral, sometimes known as a pauper’s funeral. 

Funeral assistance QLD

In Queensland, you may be able to get funeral assistance by applying to the Queensland Magistrates Court or the Coroners Court of Queensland. 

To be eligible, you must have confirmed that no other family members are able to pay for the funeral. If you have already made a payment to a funeral director, you will be disqualified from assistance (although you may be able to get written approval from the funeral director to release you from the contract and re-apply).

If you do receive funeral assistance from the Queensland Government, the Coroners Court will place a hold on the deceased’s bank account and try to recover money from their estate.

Funeral Assistance, SA

South Australian residents who are not able to pay the costs for a funeral and have exhausted all other options may be eligible to arrange a funeral through FuneralAssistanceSA.

The funeral provided is typically a low cost cremation, although if a burial is required this can be arranged if the family are able to pay the additional cost.

This scheme is generally only available to low income individuals whose estate is valued at less than $3,000 and whose immediate relatives also have less than $3,000 in accessible funds.

Funeral Assistance, WA

The Bereavement Assistance Program in Western Australia provides assistance to WA residents who aren’t able to pay for the cost of a funeral. 

Applicants must also show that they are unable to cover the costs and the guidelines state if the deceased’s children have full time jobs the funeral assistance is likely to be denied.

Where a family is successful for funeral assistance, they will still be asked to make a contribution.

Other options for bereavement assistance

If you’re not eligible for government assistance and don’t want your loved one to be buried or cremated in a state funeral, there may be other options, including:

Trade unions. If your loved one was a member of a trade union, you may be able to access some funds towards the funeral.

Social clubs. For example, the RSL or Rotary Club may be able to help with the cost of a member’s funeral.

GoFundMe. GoFundMe is a fundraising platform that allows people to raise money for causes. In this case, your friends, family and community may rally to help cover the cost.

Charities. Charities such as Vinnies, Salvos, and Anglicare may also be able to help or offer low-cost funerals.

Comparing funeral costs

Comparing costs and providers is one of the most effective ways of making a funeral more affordable. If possible, don’t just go with the first funeral director you come across. Request quotes, compare your options, and make an informed decision.

If calling around multiple funeral directors feels overwhelming, don’t worry. You can use our online tools to compare funeral directors, celebrants and headstone masons. You can also request multiple quotes from local service providers – all from the comfort of your own home.

Compare funeral directors

Compare celebrants

Compare headstone masons

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