New data released by the liquidators of collapsed Indigenous funeral insurer Youpla has revealed the central role the federal government’s Centrepay had in legitimising the product, advocates say.
Formerly known as the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, Youpla financially collapsed earlier this year leaving thousands of people out of pocket.
New data released by the company’s liquidators has revealed a 300 per cent increase in policy cancellations when Youpla was removed from the Federal Government’s Centrepay program.
Through the program, payments for the funeral insurer would be taken directly from customer’s Centrelink payments.
Policyholders whose policies were cancelled due to Centrepay or who left after the damning revelations of the Banking Royal Commission are not currently covered by the Federal Government’s interim scheme, raising fears that they might be left out in the cold when a final scheme is announced.
Data indicates that at least 30,000 First Nations people were harmed by Youpla over three decades, with the actual number probably being much higher.
Certain communities were repeatedly targeted by aggressive and illegal sales tactics. The total amount lost to Youpla could be as much as $300 million.
Financial capability coordinator at Financial Counselling Australia, Lynda Edwards, says it should have been clear that the company wasn’t fit for the program.
“For 16 years, Youpla had the Federal Government’s stamp of approval as a company approved to take payments through Centrepay. First Nations families were paying for their funeral insurance policies before they paid for food, clothing or school expenses.
“It was clear to everyone that Youpla was carrying out targeted exploitation of First Nations people, but nothing was done to stop it.
The current Federal Government has a responsibility to right that historical wrong and make amends to those who suffered and are still suffering today.”
The Save Sorry Business coalition is in Canberra this week to meet with MPs and other government representatives to discuss the future of the interim scheme.
People can call 1800 296 989 or email [email protected] to lodge an application for the interim scheme or visit https://treasury.gov.au/youpla
● Mob Strong Debt Helpline – 1800 808 488 or www.facebook.com/mobstrongdebthelp
● Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network – 1800 369 878 or www.ican.org.au
● Financial Counselling Australia – www.financialcounsellingaustralia.org.au