Western Australia, please set up an annual $2 million funeral fund for Aboriginal families
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Many impoverished and struggling families are calling for each State and Territory to establish funeral funds for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander families who are not able to afford to funerals. Western Australia is the nation's wealthiest jurisdiction and boasts one of the world's highest median incomes but its poorest are left behind.
The Western Australian Government can establish a yearly $2 million funeral fund for Aboriginal families who cannot afford funeral costs. Alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the Northern Territory, Western Australia is the jurisdiction where Aboriginal peoples have it worst in the nation. The Western Australian Government can lead the way with the $2 million funeral fund - the rest of the nation will follow.
Distress levels can be reduced for impoverished families, the homeless, for struggling families if funerals can be paid for by the State.
60 per cent of Western Australia's Aboriginal peoples live below the poverty line. 75 per cent in the Northern Territory. 40 per cent nationally.
The distressing stories of one family after another having the body of a child or a parent remain longer in a morgue than should, or who break down altogether because they cannot afford the last dignity of the funeral, depletes the last vestiges of strength.
Many of us have raised funds for those who cannot afford a funeral service; in my case for homeless and for impoverished families, some of them suicide affected families. The dignity of a farewell to a loved one is imperative.
I have seen first-hand the pressures and impacts on families who cannot afford funerals, and subsequently who are not able to mourn in an effective manner - they can be reduced to composite and multiple traumas, to the direst. The constancy of the psychosocial negative can culminate in aberrant behaviour, and vulnerable families become at-risk of needless confrontation with the personnel of various agencies and authorities. There is displaced anger, their children impacted, children at elevated risk to being removed. I am not being dramatic, I am being real here - this is my eye witness and this is the pain and suffering, the misery that I have been asked by many to translate into a campaign to galvanise the State Government to set up a funeral fund.
Many of us work at pace to improve the lot of others, but the grim reality is that because of the impacts of past wrongs and horrific cruelties by one government after another, here in Western Australia, and nationally, many will live poor and marginalised their whole lives, many families will remain downtrodden and this government funeral fund is one of a number of simple steps that will guarantee dignities, reduce distress, keep families solid. We must do everything we can to help.
It is sad, but this is the least that we can do in death for those we as a society have failed and wronged in life.
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