Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I support the bill. It is appropriate that such a change is made. I have dealt with a couple of families in the north-west region where the mothers of young children were murdered by their partners on two different separate occasions.
Interestingly, in both cases, the mothers' Christian names were both the same so I got confused when I received a second call for assistance and thought, 'Haven't I heard this story before?' but it was another one. This is going back a little while. Unfortunately, it does happen.
This change to the legislation is appropriate, because funerals are not cheap. I want to explore the prescribed amount and the time frame around its review with the Leader. Obviously, when an individual dies in such circumstances, it is an untimely death, one that was not expected. It is inevitably traumatic for the families and friends of the victims, and often these funerals are quite big because of that. All unexpected deaths tend to have, generally, bigger funerals and thus often incur higher costs.
While funeral services determine costs of a funeral, the prescribed amount initially should be $10 000 per funeral, with the prescribed amount being reviewed regularly. I am interested in what that means. How often is it going to be reviewed? Is there a risk where the claimant is the funeral director, which this bill provides for - it can be a close relative, close friend or a travel organisation as well - that, even where a funeral may be quite small, contained and not expensive, because that is what the family has requested, that the funeral director can up the price to $10 000 anyway? They can, knowing they can make a claim of this level.
Most funerals in these circumstances would cost a reasonable amount because of their nature and size. For example, I do not know how funeral directors determine how many orders of service they are going to print. I guess they would have to make a judgment call about how many people are expected to turn up.
Ms Rattray - That is how it works.
Ms FORREST - Yes, that is right. I am saying that. In the case of an untimely death in quite tragic circumstances, there is more likely to be a large funeral. It may not always be, but I am interested how that process will unfold.
Originally I wondered about the appropriateness of the funeral director being the person to make the claim. However, I accept that it is appropriate because the families at such a time are genuinely very distraught. It is a really unfortunate circumstance for anyone to find themselves in. To have this burden taken off their shoulders is probably an appropriate option for them. Some may choose to do it themselves, with family members, to make the claim or someone else does it on their behalf. In many ways it makes a lot of sense to do this. If there is a $10 000 maximum that a person can get through the victims of crime assistance and this is all eaten up by the funeral costs then it seems particularly unfair that the family should bear that burden as well.
Some of these people may have prepaid funerals. How does that work then? Is the money repaid on the basis of the cost of the prepaid funeral?
In regard to the review of the costs that can be awarded under this section, what safeguards will there be in place to ensure that funeral costs are reasonable? What limit to the power does the administrator of this part of the bill have in determining that?
I support the principle. It is important.
[11.11 a.m.]Go Back