The Save Sorry Business Coalition met in Canberra this week to get money returned to the thousands of people harmed by the Youpla collapse. The coalition comprised First Nations representatives from consumer organisations and Youpla policy holders from across Australia. The team held a press conference, media interviews and had follow-up meetings with key politicians.
The Save Sorry Business Coalition pushed the need for the Federal Government’s final scheme to include these four key elements:
- Fair and proportionate response to financial loss. The scheme should should cover policyholders harmed back to 2001 (when Centrepay approved ACBF/Youpla) in the form of either a $12,000 payment or reimbursement of actual losses;
- Culturally appropriate options and choice are essential. This includes the choice between refunds/payments, replacement funeral bonds and savings plans;
- Financial counselling support. This will allow individuals and families to choose the best options for their situation; and
- Accessibility for all policyholders.
For decades, the private funeral insurance company ‘Youpla’ (also known as ACBF) has aggressively sold poor-value funeral plans to First Nations peoples. They subsequently collapsed, leaving thousands of people unable to access funeral plans they had already paid for and unable to cover the cost of grieving loved ones through Sorry Business.
This situation was facilitated by decades of government and regulatory failure by agencies that could have prevented much of this harm from occurring. In particular, the role of the Department of Social Services and Centrepay created a de facto marketing and payments platform for the targeted exploitation of low-income Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
The coalition were clear to government that they should ensure policy holders aren’t digitally excluded and have access to a phone number manned by culturally trained staff. Representatives also flagged the need for Policy holders to make submissions offline with the help of a trusted third party. Stating that an inadequate scheme that does not address the above issues would fail to respond appropriately to what First Nations people are calling for from the Federal Government.
The coalition wants to see a resolution provided in the May Budget and strongly supports the government in their work to bring this tragic episode in Australia’s recent history to a positive resolution.