Changes to Community Benefit Scheme - NSWALC Funeral Fund

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has made changes to its Funeral Fund to assist Aboriginal families suffering bereavement.

NSWALC has been providing funeral assistance grants to support thousands of bereaved Aboriginal families for over a decade.  The Council acknowledges the difficulties faced by families during this sad time and we remain committed to providing assistance to members of Local Aboriginal Land Councils and the Aboriginal community.

The Council has a responsibility to ensure that the NSWALC Account is appropriately managed for the benefit of future generations and to ensure that the obligations of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 are met. These obligations include the need to ensure all community benefit schemes are fair and equitable and administered in an open and transparent way.

Consistent with these principles, Council has decided to allow members of the former Funeral Insurance Fund who were financial members at the time it closed in 1994 to transfer their membership benefits to another deceased Aboriginal person, subject to the waiver of any future claims on that Fund. This change applies to funerals occurring from 12 January 2016, and is not applicable on a retrospective basis.

Further to this change, there are now two types of grants available from the Fund and the following eligibility now applies:

a)  Members of the former Funeral Insurance Fund, who were financial members at the time it closed in 1994, remain eligible for a grant of up to $5000 for 'Claimable Funeral Expenses'. If seeking to transfer membership benefits to a deceased Aboriginal person (who then ceases to be eligible for any other NSWALC funeral grant) the member of the Fund will also be required to sign a Deed of Release (waiving the member's right to claim any future benefits under their membership of the former Fund);

b)  The following Aboriginal persons who are not members of the former Funeral Insurance Fund or who are members and have transferred their grant to another Aboriginal person are eligible for a grant of up to $1000 for 'Claimable Funeral Expenses':

i.  Aboriginal persons being buried in NSW (whether or not they resided in NSW),
ii.  Local Aboriginal Land Council members (whether or not they reside or are buried in NSW).

To ensure the fairness of the scheme, the following criteria will also apply:

  • NSWALC will not consider individual requests for grants above amounts identified within the Policy for the NSWALC Funeral Fund.
  • Grants for valid claims will only be paid directly to the Funeral service provider identified on the Claim form and invoice.
  • NSWALC will not provide retrospective grants from the Fund directly to family members for the reimbursement of costs associated with a funeral of an otherwise eligible person.
  • Funerals for non-Aboriginal spouses are not eligible to receive a grant from the Fund.

Updated terms and conditions outline the documentation that NSWALC will require in order to process valid claims. Please note that NSWALC will only accept the following documents as confirmation of Aboriginality:

  • Confirmation from a Local Aboriginal Land Council, or
  • Declaration from a NSWALC Councillor.

The new Funeral Fund Claim Form and new Terms & Conditions are available on our website: www.alc.org.au/nswalc-in-the-community/funeral-fund.aspx

Councillor Roy Ah-See
Chairperson, NSW Aboriginal Land Council