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Thursday, 20 June 2002
Page: 4113


Mr FARMER (9:49 AM) —Today I would like to bring to the attention of this House an issue which is very close to my heart: a loophole in the social security system that has been overlooked until recently. It is an issue which I am working with my colleagues to see addressed. The current social security system makes allowances for a bereavement payment. This is made to the surviving partner of somebody who has passed away, in order to help them financially following their partner's death. This payment can be used to help meet the cost of providing a decent funeral service. However, there is no provision for a similar payment to be made to the children of a deceased person if the deceased is unmarried or divorced or does not have a partner with a legal responsibility for the children. Being a single parent myself, I think about what would happen to my children if something ever happened to me. This has given me an insight into, and an understanding of, how desperate some people can be when the time comes to bury their loved ones. Clearly, they are distraught and they have difficulty dealing with the emotional ramifications of the death, let alone the financial ones.

I ask the members of this House to consider a situation where a sole parent has relied on welfare benefits. Often there are no savings to pay for a funeral. While a state funded funeral can be applied for in these cases but is not always given, I ask you: what child deserves to have their parent buried in an unmarked grave without a fitting funeral service? This issue was brought home to me by some members of my community in Campbelltown, and I know of a family where orphaned children actually had to get an advance on their youth allowance payments so that they could give their mother a loving funeral. I see it as my job as the representative of the people of Macarthur to bring this issue before the House and to see that this discrepancy in bereavement payments is corrected. That is why I am currently working through this issue with the Minister for Family and Community Services, and I ask all the members of this House to support me in this endeavour.