Bereavement Assistance Program

The Bereavement Assistance Program provides assistance to community members in situations where there are insufficient funds in a deceased person’s estate to pay for a funeral, and when the deceased person’s family are unable to meet the funeral costs.

It is distressing for anyone to lose a loved one, and the State Government recognises that it is especially difficult for some members of the community when they are unable to bury a loved one because of limited financial resources of their own. The Bereavement Assistance Program aims to provide support to these families. The Bereavement Assistance Program is administered by the Department of Communities.

Program eligibility criteria

  • A deceased person’s partner and/or adult children will be income and assets tested to determine if they have sufficient means to fund or borrow for the funeral. 
  • If the deceased person’s family members have a full-time income, then assistance will generally be denied on the grounds that they have sufficient means to pay for the funeral. 
  • Where a family is eligible for a Centrelink bereavement package, they will usually be asked to make a contribution of approximately 50%.
  • Each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and there is not an automatic entitlement based on eligibility for Centrelink benefits.

When the family of a deceased person successfully applies to the Bereavement Assistance Program, they will be expected to make some contribution towards the funeral – even if it is just a small amount.

What can be funded by the program?

If your application to the Bereavement Assistance Program is approved, the funeral will be carried out by a funeral director that is approved and contracted to the Department of Communities.

The Department’s contractor will provide basic funeral services to approved applicants. This includes transport via a hearse, coffin, engagement of the funeral director, attendance of a Minister, pall bearers etc.

The Department of Communities will not cremate a deceased person, unless stipulated in a will or due to cultural or religious reasons.  This is to ensure there is a burial site if undisclosed family members make enquires in the future.

Where the Department has approved an application for Bereavement Assistance and the funeral is being conducted by its contracted funeral director, the Department may also consider funding:

  • the use of a mortuary in a non-contracted funeral home or a hospital to hold the deceased. Use of a mortuary may also be covered where the deceased’s body is unclaimed for a period of time and where transport to a contracted funeral home is required. 
  • for the deceased’s body to be transported home where the family has demonstrated it has exhausted all possible avenues of alternative funding. This funding will only be approved in exceptional circumstances, such as where the deceased was temporarily away from home within another area of Western Australia, or to return an Indigenous person to their homeland. The Department does not fund transport of deceased person’s across State boarders or where family have contracted and funded their own private funeral arrangements.

Where can I find out more about the program?

Telephone the Department of Communities Bereavement Assistance Program on free call 1800 854 925.

Where can applications be processed?

Applications to the Bereavement Assistance Program must be made through your local Department of Communities metropolitan or country district office.

Page reviewed 19 November 2021