Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have funeral insurance policies with Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund No. 2 Pty Ltd should contact Mob Strong Debt Help on Facebook and our webpage.
More than 3,400 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lost their funeral insurance policies after it was announced that Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund No. 2 Pty Ltd (Fund 2) would be placed into liquidation .
Financial Rights Legal Centre’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led Mob Strong Debt Help service has been inundated with hundreds of calls from distressed and confused policyholders seeking clarification about the future of their policies and whether they can obtain a refund.
Many First Nations people are entitled to refunds for policies after ACBF Funeral Plans Pty Ltd (ACBF), owned by Youpla Pty Ltd was found by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority in October 2020 to have misrepresented itself to people in the community as an Aboriginal owned and controlled, not-for-profit, community organisation. It is clear there is no money to pay the refunds that are owed to these First Nations people in Fund 2.
Mob Strong Debt Help Solicitor Mark Holden said Mob Strong was also seeking clarity on the future of two other Youpla funds: the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (known as Fund 1) and ACBF Funeral Plans Pty Ltd (trading as Aboriginal Community Funeral Plan), he said.
Anyone who holds a Fund 2 policy or who is seeking to claim against Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund No. 2 Pty Ltd should lodge a proof of debt form for their debt to be considered by liquidators in the event there are any assets. If consumers don’t know if they belong to Fund 2, they should contact the administrator by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or on (07) 3270 8500.
“Mob Strong has been overwhelmed with demand for help and we are doing everything we can to respond to people as soon as possible,” Mr Holden said. “But please don’t panic if you have not yet filed your paperwork. There is still time.”
Mr Holden said there are many Elders and parents who have tried to do the right thing by their families by paying premiums, often for decades, to provide for their own funeral.
“Many people may have been tricked or misled about the value of their policy and now they are left high and dry with nothing.”
Financial Rights Legal Centre Director of Casework Alexandra Kelly urged the Australian Government to step in to ensure ACBF Fund 2 policyholders were compensated.
“We understand the Australian Government is committed to closing the gap,” Ms Kelly said. “The liquidation of this fund will have a huge financial impact on thousands of disadvantaged First Nations people who thought they were planning appropriately for their funeral costs.
“We ask the Australian Government to step in to ensure these people are not abandoned.”
Sorry Business (funerals and related cultural activities) is of special, cultural significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities appear to have been disproportionately harmed by funeral policies, particularly those offered by the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund now known as Youpla.
Youpla is the parent company for three separate companies which offer funeral insurance:
- Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund (known as Fund 1);
- Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund No. 2 Pty Ltd (Fund 2); and
- ACBF Funeral Plans Pty Ltd (trading as Aboriginal Community Funeral Plan).
Funeral policies are often of limited value. Payout amounts are often small and there are high rates of cancellations.
Youpla is a private company, historically it was not Aboriginal owned or managed. For decades, Youpla sold funeral insurance and funeral expenses policies marketed solely to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers through unsolicited sales techniques in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
Youpla used the trading name ‘Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund’, Aboriginal sales staff and Aboriginal motifs in their marketing to appeal to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers.
Following the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry’s recommendation, the Australian Government removed the regulatory loophole which enabled funeral expenses products to avoid regulation under the Corporations Act.
Since the Royal Commission, Youpla has rebranded itself and stopped selling their products.
Financial Rights Legal Centre has represented 11 clients in matters before the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.