Tender: Port project to offer low-cost funerals

Port Kembla Community Project manager Jenny Briscoe-Hough is looking to provide low-cost funeral services. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Port Kembla Community Project manager Jenny Briscoe-Hough is looking to provide low-cost funeral services. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Everyone has to deal with it at some stage, but when it comes to death, dying and funerals, options are limited.

Jenny Briscoe-Hough wants to change that.

Manager of Port Kembla Community Project, Ms Briscoe-Hough has been the driving force behind Tender Funerals, a proposed social enterprise to provide low-cost funeral services, alternative ceremonies, and education on the rights and options around death.

"We're not saying other funeral companies are doing things wrong, but there is another way of doing things," she said.

"Instead of letting a business model dictate how a funeral runs, we want to help people have more of a say in it."

The project has been in the works for years, but this week has been a big one for Tender Funerals. A documentary about the enterprise received a standing ovation at the Sydney Film Festival on Monday, and Tender launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $200,000 needed to finance a morgue, van and funeral director.

"We just want to charge people what things actually cost," Ms Briscoe-Hough said, referencing inflated costs at her own mother's funeral, which cost nearly $10,000, including a $3000 coffin.

"We did a lot of research and almost everyone said the ceremony was the most important part of a funeral, but in a traditional model it is the least expensive. We want to rearrange the costs to give people the experience they want."

She said many were unaware of legalities around funerals, which allow people to build coffins, hold ceremonies, and care for, transport and deliver bodies for disposal without a funeral director.

Besides cheaper funerals, Tender would hold palliative care workshops, and work with dying people to help them overcome the fear of death. It would also establish a natural burial ground, where bodies are buried in biodegradable shrouds or coffins, and marked with a tree and a GPS marker for families to return to.

"People want to be useful even after death, and if their bodies can go into regenerating land, people will be happy," Ms Briscoe-Hough said.

The campaign has raised more than $15,000 already. For more information visit startsomegood.com/tenderfunerals.

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