The Save Sorry Business Coalition, supported by over 130 organisations and 20,000 individuals, has held a public day of action at Australian Parliament House today.
First Nations Elders and community leaders from across Australia, including from far-north Queensland, the Kimberley in Western Australia, western New South Wales and regional Victoria have flown to Canberra to meet with Federal politicians. The day is part of the ongoing campaign for a fair and lasting resolution for people affected by the collapse of Youpla, driven by government and regulatory failures.
The day of action comes after last week's encouraging interim announcement by Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones that the new government will honour benefits for Youpla policyholders who pass away who had an active policy as at 1 April 2020. This will be available until 30 November 2023 and provide financial assistance to an estimated 500 First Nations customers.
The Save Sorry Business Coalition estimates that there are at least 30,000 people affected by the collapse of Youpla who are unlikely to be covered by the initial package announced last week. People who did not have an active policy as of 1 April 2020 are still in need of government assistance to compensate them for the cover they lost.
The Save Sorry Business Coalition looks forward to working with the Federal Government to provide an enduring and fair solution to all remaining people affected by the collapse of Youpla.
The Coalition today released new data* about the cultural and economic harms of Youpla's collapse on First Nations communities. It surveyed over 300 First Nations peoples affected by the collapse and found that:
- Over half of respondents (50%) said they would not be able to hold a culturally appropriate funeral and Sorry Business for their loved ones.
- 40% said they would need to go into debt to pay for a funeral.
- 38% said they would need to borrow money from family or community members to pay for a funeral.
- 25% said they would be forced to draw down their superannuation and compromise their quality of life in retirement.
The survey also found that First Nations people wanted meaningful choice in a response from government response, including:
- 69% of people said they wanted a refund of their lost money.
- 17% said they wanted a funeral savings plan.
- 14% said they wanted a prepaid funeral.
Lynda Edwards, Wangkumara/Barkandji woman and Financial Capability Coordinator at Financial Counselling Australia, said:
"The Federal Government's announcement is a welcome first step on the journey towards justice for Youpla policyholders. I've spoken to many First Nations families who had diligently paid tens of thousands of dollars over decades to pay for the important cultural practice of Sorry Business, only for it to disappear overnight."
"It is promising to see movement towards an enduring resolution and we are here in Canberra this week to help ensure that progress continues for First Nations peoples."
Bettina Cooper, Boandik woman and Aboriginal Financial Counsellor at Mob Strong Debt Help, said:
"We welcome last week's announcement that the Federal Government will honour benefits for Youpla policyholders who had an active policy as of 1 April 2020 and make an interim scheme available until 30 November 2023."
"We look forward to the new Government consulting with community about a lasting resolution for all people harmed by Youpla's collapse. Youpla caused widespread cultural and economic harm, and is continuing to worsen the gap, rather than closing it."
Daphne Naden, Kuku Yalanji Elder and Director at the Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network said:
"I have been personally impacted by the collapse of ACBF/Youpla and it is causing me anxiety and stress because of my age. I am going to Canberra to be a voice for the thousands of people who have been impacted by this company that has done the wrong thing by us all. I want to see the government commit to everyone getting their money back."
Mark Holden, Dunghutti man and Aboriginal Solicitor at Mob Strong Debt Help, said:
"We welcome the Federal Government announcing that it wants to address the regulatory failures that have harmed so many First Nations people. The collapse is continuing to cause widespread social and economic harm to First Nations communities."
"Mob Strong Debt Help receives thousands of calls from First Nations peoples who are worried, angry and anxious about the economic and cultural security of themselves and their family."
Samantha Rudolph, Wurundjeri woman and Aboriginal Policy Officer at Consumer Action Law Centre said:
"The Banking Royal Commission laid bare the terrible harm caused by Youpla's practices. First Nations communities all over Australia were harmed and their savings lost by its collapse."
"Delivering a just outcome for all people and communities harmed by Youpla and the failure of multiple previous governments will be an important part of the new government's legacy for First Nations communities."
Note: Broadcast quality footage from today's media conference at Parliament House is available upon request, along with photos and interviews with First Nations clients and advocates from Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria.
Media enquiries: Daniel Scoullar, 0402 596 297, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Between May and July 2022, the Save Sorry Business coalition asked 304 people affected by Youpla's collapse about their experiences.