Chapter 17
The case for reform


17.1Our consultation and research has not revealed evidence of widespread problems or abuses in the funeral services sector. On the contrary, the majority of those operating within the funeral sector do so with integrity and to high standards. We are only aware of one reported prosecution against a funeral director, which occurred in 1984. In that case, a number of charges were laid for breaching section 150 of the Crimes Act 1961, which relates to offering an indignity to a body.321

17.2However, throughout the project, we have heard reports of occasional deficiencies in professional practice that have resulted in distress being caused to family members. These were most often caused by unqualified funeral service providers or those offering DIY help. However, there were also complaints about people who were either qualified or members of an industry organisation.

17.3Over this time, there has also been a number of media reports of funeral service providers being involved in disrespectful practices and also some instances of bodies having been mixed up, causing distress to families.322

17.4Our consultation and feedback process also revealed quite a number of instances where consumers have felt they have been overcharged or have received unexpected charges for services from a funeral service provider. Again, throughout the duration of this project, there have been regular stories in the media along these lines.

17.5This feedback, together with our research, has highlighted two main concerns that we consider are inadequately addressed under the current regulatory system:

321R v Young, above n 267. In that case the director was charged pursuant to s 150.
322These are detailed in our Issues Paper Law Commission, above n 8 at [8.53].