Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service

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The Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service

The Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service (VAFS) provides community based culturally strong funerals and care for grieving community members and has been doing so since the 1970s.The Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service has been a program of the AAL since 1995 and is based at the Aboriginal Advancement League (AAL) located in Thornbury, Melbourne, with its mortuary in Clifton Hill. The service provides immediate initial contact and advice to families after death occurs, including the setting up of transporting the deceased and ordering coffins, managing the transport of the deceased from place of death to the funeral service and burial place, ordering the coffin and flowers, choosing the place of burial and liaising with the minister or celebrant to conduct the service.

Aim

The overall purpose of the Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service aims to:

The overall purpose of the Victorian Aboriginal Funeral Service aims to:
Provide a holistic Aboriginal managed funeral service for Aboriginal people, families and communities that respects culture, family and community protocols in burying Aboriginal people. This is provided irrespective of the ability to pay ‘up front’ for funeral costs and irrespective of the place and circumstances of death. The Service yields important health outcomes as it alleviates the stress and trauma of bereavement on families who are left to face the financial burden caused by the death of loved ones. It caters for the most vulnerable members of the Aboriginal community and they are the ones most likely to be homeless, in the justice system or experiencing family violence.

  • The service:
    Provides necessary support, advice and referrals to families who have experienced the trauma of recent death and ensure that all arrangements associated with the planning and administration of funeral is taken care of and undertaken in a sensitive manner that respects and accommodates the interests of bereaving family members.
  • Alleviates the significant trauma and financial related stress of Aboriginal families who have experienced recent death by meeting all the initial costs – later recouped by VAFS.
  • Supports the health and wellbeing of community members in times of trauma and stress

Vision

To ensure the well being for those who are grieving through a culturally appropriate funeral service.

Values

  • Understanding the social, cultural, emotional, and spiritual needs of the families of deceased and integrating this into the design and delivery of funeral services
  • Referring bereaved families to counselling services to meet their psychological needs
    for social and emotional wellbeing
  • Partnering with agencies who can provide Aboriginal specific funeral products and
    services
  • Partnering with individuals and organisations who can support low-cost funerals for
    those in need
  • Maintaining relationships with cemeteries and other services who provide affordable rates
  • Mobilising in-kind support and volunteers for funeral services to reduce the costs
  • Managing complex deaths through with coordinating with hospitals, police, and other agencies as required
  • Ongoing support and follow-up with families, through the extended period of grief

Outcomes

  • A sense of security that there is a culturally safe option for Aboriginal people living in or a Traditional Owner in Victoria.
  • Direct support provided to families during the funeral planning process, including family disputes, reduces the negative ongoing impact on the family.
  • Reducing or eliminating the debt for families of deceased through providing a service within their capacity to pay
  • Support in coping with traumatic deaths to reduce impact of trauma. Including support for families coping with deaths in custody, suicide, and loss of children, throughout the funeral planning process, referrals to counselling, and coordinated follow-up.
  • Enhancing the social and emotional wellbeing of families traumatized by grief by supporting them and reducing their financial burden in a culturally safe way.
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