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Choosing Funeral Director should be based on integrity


With recent media attention relating to a Rockhampton based funeral director we see the need to dispel some of the issues raised in the news article and comments.

Whilst we have not had any personal dealing with Hart Family Funerals or Tony Hart and we can only rely on the statements to the media from Harts Funerals and the family involved. A copy of the background story can be found here – http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/funeral-homes-alleged-1700-coffin-switch-a-new-low/news-story/7b45707dfcf067a3ed130731522b4f69

The practice of coffin swapping according to the family, was informed by Tony Hart as being “commonplace” industry practice. With in the circles of other funeral directors we associate, our suppliers and industry associations we believe this practice to be uncommon. Indeed, if it were then why are there so many manufacturers and importers of such supply. Caskets and coffins are one of the most sacred purchases involving a funeral. The selection made at the time of an arrangement is the one and only casket or coffin required. Tony Hart has since offered further clarification on the issue acknowledging the swap should not have been done.

The need to take a deceased out of one coffin and placed in another for refrigeration is not a practice we are aware of. Many reputable suppliers and manufacturers of coffins and caskets products are suitable to be placed in refrigeration for periods of at least 24 hours and longer. Even if in the rare event a deceased is required to be taken out of a coffin, to be placed in refrigeration, there is no need to use a transport shell coffin. In fact, these are not sealed and even more susceptible to damage, even with a removable cover placed over it. A transport shell coffin is also an item that is not reusable.

The fact that Tony Hart in a statement has decided to donate $3000 to the Independent Funeral Directors Association to further the push for regulation in the funeral industry is something that is a complete waste. According to their website at the time of writing this, Hart Family Funerals is not a member of this association, or any other industry association that we are aware of. The Queensland government has believed in self regulation for the most part. This system only works if industry peers set standards, protocols and can be reviewed.

Generation Funerals are members of the Australian Funeral Directors Association – considered the leading national association. Members must confirm to inspections of premises, vehicles and equipment, and participate in continued professional development. Not all associations set the same high standards.

There is no need to be a member of any association but by being members of a reputable association such as the AFDA does mean that in an industry with minimal regulation, funeral directors can actively participate in industry standards. Again, evidence shows Hart Family Funerals are not part of any association.

In many cases the driving down of funeral prices particularly at the lower end of the market has caused the lowering of standards by operators including the practice called ‘brief case’ operators. With a mobile phone, a nice flashy website and station wagon you can call yourself a funeral director. There is no need for a brief case operator to have a shopfront or their own vehicles. This practice is more common in the metro areas of South East Queensland. We support reform of the industry to raise the standards.

Our firm operates on an Open Door policy. Conducting regular tours with an access all areas pass. Families may come in and bathe and dress their loved ones or perform cultural ceremonies. The trust placed in us as funeral directors is one that we pride ourselves in upholding. Openness and honesty are standards that most funeral professionals uphold. Ensure you are comfortable with dealing with your choice of funeral director. You are able to change funeral directors if you don’t feel comfortable with your initial choice. Ask the questions you need to know the answer to. An invitation is extended to attend one of our open houses or see us at a travelling road show near you.