A Funeral Director is there to help guide families through the often emotional process of organising a funeral for a loved one.
They are responsible for making all the necessary arrangements with the cemetery for burial, cremation or entombment, and taking care of all of the administrative and legal requirements.
They will also help you with what may occur during the funeral service itself, arrange for clergy or celebrants, arrange vehicles and flowers, or place notices in the newspapers.
Choosing a Funeral Director that you trust and are comfortable with can help you and your family through a difficult time.
Usually, the time when families must deal with a Funeral Director can be traumatic and emotional. It is not an easy process to manage and a Funeral Director’s role should be to support you through the funeral arrangement process.
In Western Australia, legislation requires that Funeral Directors must be issued with a licence to operate.
The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board issues licences for Funeral Directors to conduct funerals at each of the six metropolitan cemetery sites managed by the MCB. These are Karrakatta, Fremantle, Midland and Guildford cemeteries, as well as Pinnaroo Valley and Rockingham Regional Memorial Parks.
For funeral services conducted outside of these cemeteries, Funeral Directors will be licenced by regional cemetery boards or local councils.
What does it mean to be licenced by the MCB?
Funeral Directors licenced by the MCB are required to do the following:
- Adhere to the MCB Funeral Directors Code of Conduct
- Meet all legislative requirements
- Meet certain standards required by the MCB
- Have the appropriate equipment, vehicles and facilities
- Have the appropriate insurances in place
- Provide a national police clearance to the MCB every five years
- Undertake ongoing professional development as required by the MCB
MCB-issued Funeral Director licences are reviewed annually - our aim is to ensure that standards are met and that the community’s interests are protected during a particularly vulnerable time.
Click here to see the list of MCB-licenced Funeral Directors for 2016-17.
Are Funeral Directors members of industry associations?
In Western Australia, some Funeral Directors are members of the Australian Funeral Directors Association, the Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia, or choose not to join an association.
In addition to adhering to the Code of Conduct and Conditions of Issue of Licence required by the MCB, members of these associations may have other standards and codes of practice that they must meet.
If you would like to know more about these associations and find out whether your Funeral Director is a member, please visit these sites:
Australian Funeral Directors Association
AFDA Members are bound by a strict Code of Ethics and Practice designed to meet both community needs and expectations in all aspects of service delivery. The Code is a reassurance to the community of sincere care and professional service, particularly at a time of uncertainty and distress for grieving families and relatives.
Prospective member firms must comply with required standards for Premises, Equipment and Vehicles (PEV) before AFDA membership is granted. Re-accreditation is required every three years.
AFDA develops and promotes professional standards in the funeral industry. In conjunction with its Membership, community groups and professional expertise, AFDA has developed several standards for industry practice. These are based upon fundamental and legitimate occupational health and safety, public health, legal and community standards. AFDA Member firms are required to abide by these standards.
Click here to visit the Australian Funeral Directors Association website.
The Australian Funeral Directors Association has developed an online resource for those planning their own funeral. For more information please visit the Your Goodbye website.
Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia
The Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia Inc. was formed in 2000. The philosophy behind forming the association was to represent the best interests of both family owned funeral homes and the public when dealing with changes to the industry that may be fueled by large corporate funeral businesses.
The IFDAA works together with its members to ensure that the families they are called to serve receive the best possible standard of service. The association aims to ensure that its members' conduct is of a professional standard and is in keeping with the funeral profession so that members' actions, words and deeds, are fair, truthful and beneficial for all concerned.
What if I don’t want to use a Funeral Director and want to arrange the funeral myself?
If you don’t wish to use a licenced Funeral Director, you may apply for a Single Funeral Permit, which is permitted Cemeteries Act 1986. This will allow you to take responsibility for all of the funeral arrangements.
Typically, the senior member of the family, or other person who may have lawful possession of the deceased is expected to apply for the Single Funeral Permit in person.
Making the necessary arrangements for a burial or cremation using a Single Funeral Permit does require a substantial amount of work in typically a five to seven day period. This includes administrative paperwork; obtaining appropriate public liability insurance; making arrangements for appropriate storage of the deceased; and arranging coffins and vehicles. Over time, the MCB has observed that making such arrangements can be quite stressful for families as they are also grieving the death of a loved one. As a result, the MCB does recommend that families use a licenced Funeral Director, as these companies are highly experienced in making all of the necessary arrangements.
However, should families wish to use a Single Funeral Permit, the MCB will be happy to assist with these arrangements.
You can download the information for Single Funeral Permits here:
Single Funeral Permit Guidelines
Single Funeral Package - Burial
Single Funeral Package - Cremation
What if I have a complaint about a Funeral Director?
If you have a complaint about your Funeral Director, we encourage you to try to resolve it directly with the Funeral Director themselves. Ideally, this will allow both parties to come to a satisfactory resolution.
If you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve your concern directly, you may try the following:
If you have a complaint about a Funeral Director, to help us investigate, we may ask you to provide the following information:
- The name of the deceased, the date of funeral, the name of the administrator
- The date, time, location, manner of the issue of complaint ( ie in person, at funeral, over the phone etc
- Exactly what happened and why you wish to make a complaint
- What resolution you may be after.
Following receipt of this information, the MCB may then investigate the matter further, which may mean speaking with you, the Funeral Director or any other people involved. The MCB will assess all of the gathered information or evidence and then make a determination as to the next steps.
To assist you in providing information about your complaint, you may wish to view the MCB Funeral Director Licence Code of Conduct, as this provides Funeral Directors with guidance on how to interact with their clients.
Advise WA Consumer Protection
It is possible that your complaint may be beyond the legislative powers of the MCB.
In this case, we may refer you to the WA Department of Commerce – Consumer Protection for further advice.
Advise the relevant Member Association
If they are a member of the Australian Funeral Directors Association or the Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia, you may wish to alert that Association, who may then take further action regarding their member.
How could I become a Funeral Director?
Sometimes, after experiencing a funeral, people feel that they would like to become a Funeral Director in order to help others through this difficult time.
In Western Australia, becoming a Funeral Director is a complex responsibility. Funeral Directors must deal with families during a particularly distressing moment in their lives, when they may be vulnerable and in need of someone reliable to provide them with services regarding funerals.
Working as a Funeral Director can be rewarding; however, it is also an emotional industry, which can be both physically and mentally challenging. Working hours are irregular and, in addition to needing to cope with the human side of grief across a diverse range of beliefs, cultures and expectations, Funeral Directors must be able to meet a significant volume of administrative and legislative requirements.
If you feel you would like to become a Funeral Director, please review the information for prospective applicants before contacting the MCB.