Youpla collapse fuels ‘trauma and intergenerational debt’ for First Nations families

Redfern Legal Centre has joined a coalition of 125 organisations calling on the Federal Government to urgently support First Nations People who have been affected by the collapse of funeral insurer Youpla.

As of 11 March 2022, All Youpla Group (formerly ACBF Group Holdings Pty Ltd) Funeral Funds went into liquidation.

As a result, more than ten thousand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities who contributed to the Youpla (formerly ACBF) funds will not receive payment for the funeral or insurance benefits under their policies.

In an open letter despatched to both major parties, the Save Sorry Business Coalition has called for urgent action to prevent First Nations families from being denied the dignity of a culturally appropriate funeral and grieving period due to the collapse of the national funeral insurance provider.

For almost 30 years, the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, trading as Youpla, aggressively sold poor value funeral plans to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. Youpla actively preyed on the culturally significant practice of Sorry Business with many people paying tens of thousands of dollars to the company to ensure their families would be able to afford a dignified and culturally appropriate Sorry Business.

Speaking with one voice, the Save Sorry Business Coalition called for the next federal government to take action in two key areas to avoid creating trauma and intergenerational debt for thousands of families and local communities.

Firstly, urgent assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have recently passed away or who are in the final stages of their lives. Secondly, a plan to safeguard the livelihoods of the remainder of more than ten thousand families who have collectively lost millions of dollars, including compensation and other responses to meet the needs of affected families.

Successive federal governments and regulators have been aware of the exploitative practices of Youpla for many years. First Nations and consumer groups warned the Federal Government in 2019 that the fund was going to collapse. Despite the warnings, policymakers chose to watch the fund collapse instead of stepping in.

As a result, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and their communities will be stranded, unable to cover the costs of grieving their loved ones through their Sorry Business traditions. This will be devastating, both financially and in terms of social and cultural impact.

The Save Sorry Business Coalition is led by First Nations people and organisations, supported by charities, financial counselling organisations, community legal centres, consumer advocacy organisations, social services, unions and individual community members seeking justice.

RLC has created a factsheet to support community members impacted by Youpla's collapse. Download the factsheet here.

Download the open letter below

See also:  Youpla Group Funeral Benefit Program announced (2 August 2022)