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1.2.1 Bereavement assistance

Last Modified: 26-Jul-2018 Review Date: 01-Jul-2018

Purpose

To provide Child Protection and Family Support officers with information on how to process and manage Bereavement Assistance applications.

Note: 'Officers' refers to family assistance officers and child protection workers in the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support division.  

Practice Requirements

 
  • Applications for Bereavement Assistance must be made through the applicant’s local district office. 
  • Applications received through a district office must be sent to Client Support Services for assessment and final approval on behalf of the Executive Directors State-wide and South East and State-wide and South West.
  • Officers must make sure that the application is recorded correctly in Assist before forwarding the application.  
  • Before the interview, officers must outline the assessment process to applicants and inform them that their income, assets and expenditure, as well as those of the deceased person and their immediate family, will be assessed as part of the application.
  • Where appropriate, an Aboriginal practice leader should be consulted to provide advice and information to assist in the decision making process.

 

Process Maps

Not applicable

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Eligibility
  • The application process
  • What is provided?
  • Storage
  • Location and transport
  • Cremations
  • Funeral date
  • Provision of death certificates
  • Overview

    Bereavement Assistance provides partial or full payment of funeral costs to support individuals who cannot afford to pay for funeral expenses. Where an applicant is successful, we provide assistance through direct payment to a contracted funeral company. Officers manage Bereavement Assistance applications throughout the process and make recommendations to Client Support Services, which is responsible for final approval. Refer to Bereavement Assistance Program (in related resources) for more information. 

    Members of the public can access more information on the website or phone toll free 1800 854 925. Client Support Services monitor these calls during business hours and the Crisis Care Unit outside of business hours.

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    Eligibility

    The applicant is the person who assumes financial responsibility for the funeral and should be, where possible, the deceased’s next of kin. Applications are only accepted from persons who lodge the application and attend an interview in Western Australia (WA). 

    Applicants must be made aware of and, if eligible, use benefits offered by other departments. Eligibility to receive other benefits forms part of the assessment of financial resources. Other benefits include:

    • Department of Human Services (DHS) – can provide bereavement assistance to individuals through a lump sum payment after the death of a partner or person who they cared for, and/or an allowance for up to 14 weeks after the death of a partner. Applicants who are eligible for our Bereavement Assistance may be asked to make a contribution towards the funeral expenses if they receive bereavement assistance from DHS. 
    • Department of V​eterans’ Affairs - Bereavement Assistance​ – provides a one-off payment towards the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or dependent.
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    The application process

    Interviews

    Applicants who wish to apply for Bereavement Assistance need to make an appointment and attend an interview at their local district office. Officers conduct the interview and assessment and help the applicant to complete the following forms:

    • Request for Assistance (available on Assist at Interaction)
    • Form 150 Bereavement Assistance Program - Assessment, and 
    • Form 883 Bereavement Assistance Program -​ Statutory Declaration.

    Officers must outline the assessment process described below to applicants before the interview.

    What is assessed?

    Officers must assess the following to determine whether an applicant is eligible for Bereavement Assistance:

    • the applicant’s income, expenditure and assets
    • the income, expenditure and assets of immediate relatives of the deceased
      • in the case of a deceased adult, their spouse and adult children, excluding step children, or 
      • in the case of a deceased child, their parents or step parents
    • the collective ability of the applicant and relatives to contribute to the partial or full payment of funeral expenses
    • the financial status of the deceased, including their recent employment history and existence of superannuation and/or life insurance, and 
    • whether the deceased had a Will, and the contents of the Will. 

    Applicants may be required to provide the following information:

    • bank account details of the deceased
    • statements of fortnightly income for the applicant and the relatives of the deceased
    • statements for all liquid assets, including bank statements, cash, shares, bonds, real estate or other investments
    • any unclaimed pension, benefit or pay cheques and tax refunds
    • evidence of an application to DHS for bereavement assistance, and 
    • details of the person’s death. 

    Assessment and Assist data entry

    Officers must ensure that the application is correctly recorded in line with the Assist User Guides. Once completed, applications must be emailed to Client Support Services at CSS@dcp.wa.gov.au for assessment. Refer to the resource Bereavement Assistance Program in related resources for more information on the recommendation and approval process. 

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    What is provided?

    If an application is successful, we will cover the costs for the contracted funeral company to attend to the following:

    • registration of the death
    • the attendance of a Funeral Director and at least two assistants
    • attendance of an appropriate official to undertake religious requirements such as a Priest, Minister or Imam
    • a timber veneered or other approved casket (mounted, lined and trimmed), and
    • provision of a motor hearse, or in the case of an infant child, a suitable coach.  

    Variations to contracted conditions may be approved in exceptional circumstances, for example, cultural or religious reasons.

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    Storage

    We will cover the costs for the storage of a body held by a non-contracted funeral company. If Bereavement Assistance is approved, the body is then transferred to a funeral company contracted by us.

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    Location and transport

    The funeral takes place at the cemetery nearest to where the deceased died. We may accept responsibility for extra costs associated with transporting the body to another cemetery in the following situations:

    • where a person travelling in WA dies suddenly whilst temporarily away from their long term residential address, we will cover transport costs to move the body to the cemetery nearest to the deceased’s long term residential address
    • where families and/or communities will suffer if the funeral is not conducted locally, or
    • for cultural reasons. Applicants must make a cultural statement to support this requirement and the district office Aboriginal practice leader must give their support.
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    Cremations

     

    We will not cremate a deceased person unless stipulated in their Will or required for cultural or religious reasons. 

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    Funeral date

    Funerals should take place on a weekday unless in remote and regional areas and exceptional circumstances. 

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    Provision of death certificates

    We do not provide funding for death certificates.  Families should apply to the Department of the Attorney General – Registry of Deaths for a death certificate.

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