First Nations Consumer advocates have renewed their calls for a culturally appropriate resolution to the government’s interim Youpla scheme.
Formerly known as the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, Youpla is the disgraced funeral provider that targeted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers, who would pay thousands of dollars to ensure their loved ones were buried with dignity.
However, the provider collapsed in 2022 leaving families out-of-pocket and unable to afford funerals for their loved ones.
This week the federal government announced it would extend an interim scheme to help victims of the insurer until June next year.
The Save Sorry Business Coalition says the extension will provide relief to those at risk of passing, but wants to see more detail on the eventual resolution.
The coalition wants to see a culturally appropriate resolution which would include:
- The scheme covering over 100,000 policyholders who lost over $100 million since 2001.
- No significant exclusions apart from policyholders who paid small total amounts to ACBF/Youpla.
- Premium amount payments returned to First Nations people.
- Options for refunds/payments, replacement funeral bonds and savings products.
- Financial counselling support and culturally appropriate access options.
- Further consultation around details and delivery of the scheme.
Boandik woman and the coalition’s coordinator and Aboriginal Financial Counsellor at Mob Strong Debt Help, Bettina Cooper, says she’s worried the issue will continue to drag on.
“The longer solutions like this drag out the more stress and trauma and inter-generational trauma it can cause in communities.
Communities are already hurting from the Voice vote, and I think it would be expedient to just get clarity, and straight talk about what is going to happen now.”
A joint press release attributed to both federal Indigenous Affairs minister Linda Burney and assistant treasurer Stephen Jones says finding a resolution has been difficult.
“The Government is committed to an enduring resolution to the Youpla Group collapse, however the process has been more complex than expected.
By extending the interim program, we are giving former Youpla Group customers certainty while the final details of the enduring resolution are worked through.”
The coalition has already had talks with key policy makers on addressing Centrepay, the government-operated platform which facilitated payments to Youpla.
“We’ve met with the Prime Minister’s office and we’ve met with Minister (Bill) Shorten and Minister (Amanda) Rishworth offices, around the harms of Centrepay.
And the consumer advocates as a group have put in suggestions for Centrepay reform, and have put in requests for what that should look like.
We’ve had responses from Minister Shorten and Minister Rushworth’s office and the former CEO of Services Australia.
And to date we are still waiting for a promised meeting to discuss those Centrepay reforms.”