First Nations financial counsellors, advocates and policyholders from the Save Sorry Business Coalition have welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an ‘enduring resolution’ for over 13,000 people harmed by Youpla and regulatory failures.
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney has briefed advocates that the government scheme will include people who were still making payments to ACBF/Youpla on or after 1 August 2015.
Those eligible can decide between a government-protected funeral bond or a payment of 60% of premiums paid up to a cap of their Youpla funeral benefit amount. This dignity of choice is a welcome aspect of the enduring resolution. Free financial counselling will be available to support choice.
The enduring resolution will open from 1 July 2024 and run for two years. Details for how the scheme will operate and how information will be shared with policyholders are yet to be determined.
This is a historic announcement by the Federal Government that both recognises the harm done through targeted exploitation of First Nations people and also provides significant investment in alleviating financial hardship and ensuring Sorry Business can honour people’s lives and culture.
While welcoming the decision, advocates acknowledge that the Youpla companies have harmed many more people and that some in the community will be disappointed that it excludes people who held policies but stopped paying before 2015.
This outcome follows more than two years of advocacy, meetings and engagement with First Nations communities across the country. The Save Sorry Business Coalition has been First Nations-led from the start, with broad community support from over 130 organisations and 20,000 Australians.
Quotes attributable to Bettina Cooper, Boandik woman and Save Sorry Business Coalition Coordinator & Aboriginal Financial Counsellor at Mob Strong Debt Help
“We welcome this announcement and commend Ministers Linda Burney and Stephen Jones for following through with their commitment to put a scheme in place to address the harm to First Nations people caused by Youpla, Centrepay and regulatory failures over many years.”
“This resolution will relieve immediate financial hardship for many, provide certainty around Sorry Business for others, and enable thousands of families to move on with their lives.”
Quote attributable to Lynda Edwards, Wangkumara/Barkandji woman and Financial Capability Coordinator at Financial Counselling Australia & 2023 NSW Woman of the Year
“It is over thirty years since Youpla started targeting First Nations people and over twenty years since the Federal Government approved Youpla to receive payments via Centrepay, taking money straight from people’s social security payments before they could even put food on the table.”
“We acknowledge the leadership shown by Ministers Linda Burney and Stephen Jones, as well as dozens of other parliamentarians and staffers who have supported First Nations people in pursuing a resolution for those harmed by Youpla and regulatory failures.”
Quote attributable to Mark Holden, Dunghutti man and Aboriginal Senior Solicitor at Mob Strong Debt Help
“The exploitation and deception perpetrated by Youpla has caused severe intergenerational harm for individuals, families and communities. It has created financial and cultural crises, worsened health outcomes and deepened poverty.”
“This announcement is the beginning of that process, not the end. But it’s a strong beginning that gives many Youpla payers the ability to choose how they will take care of Sorry Business. We will continue working with them to ensure this announcement translates into a fair and culturally appropriate resolution.”
Editorial note: Youpla refers to the Youpla/ACBF companies and their associated funds
Media enquiries: Daniel Scoullar, 0402 596 297, email@example.com
Other useful contacts to include in reporting:
- 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
About Youpla/ACBF and the Save Sorry Business Coalition
For 30 years, the Aboriginal Community Benefit Fund, trading as Youpla, aggressively sold poor-value funeral plans to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
Youpla actively preyed on the culturally significant practice of Sorry Business with many people paying tens of thousands of dollars to the company to ensure their families could afford a dignified and culturally appropriate Sorry Business. Federal/state governments and regulators have been aware of the exploitative practices of Youpla for many years.
The Save Sorry Business Coalition is a First Nations-led campaign supported by 130 organisations and over 20,000 Australians seeking a fair and enduring resolution for First Nations people harmed by the misleading and deceptive conduct of Youpla and the massive and prolonged failure of government and regulators over two decades.