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Funerals Done Differently

February 1, 2021

Funerals can be an expensive burden on a family, and often family and friends would like to share in the cost and make a contribution.

At Darlinghurst based Sydney Funerals, owner Scott Duncombe now offers something he calls the TLC Project, which stands for “Tap a Little Contribution” and is an opportunity for make a donation to the wake or to the charity of the family’s choice.

The contribution can be made either by passing around a terminal at the event, or through a link which can be circulated online.

“We wanted to have that platform for people to create a fund without loosing any fees, so there are zero management fees on this and everything goes to the family,” says Duncombe.

“This is just an added service to our families and it’s up to them if they want to use it, and they have the choice of how the funds are used, for the funeral or charity.”

So far, Duncombe says mourners have been more than happy to make contributions and have welcomed the TLC service, but the reluctance comes from the family of the deceased. But he believes attitudes are changing and Australian culture is shifting to be more accepting of new practices at funerals.

“Other cultures and countries do this and embrace this as part of the funeral process, and it is certainly the case at weddings,” says Duncombe.

“It’s all about community coming together and helping out, because funerals can be expensive and some people just don’t have the money sitting there, and losing someone who is a breadwinner can often be a big financial blow.”

TLC is just one example of how Duncombe is seeking to disrupt the funeral industry. All his variable costs – such as for coffins – are fully listed and transparent, and he charges a set fee for his service. He also drives a hearse called “Harry” in which family can also ride with the coffin.

With a background in food and beverage and front of house, Duncombe also approaches funerals more like an event planner, helping families chose different locations and combining the wake into the event.

“I am driven by a belief that funerals need a cultural change to be a more modern reflection of society,” he says.

With strong links to the LGBTQI community, Duncombe says these families often want a different approach and don’t always receive cultural sensitivity from the traditional funeral industry.

“I had a gentleman whose husband passed away suddenly and there were some complications with the Public Trustee, and we had to cancel the funeral 24 hours out,” he says.

“I wasn’t going to have that, so I took the deceased and his husband for a drive down to La Perouse so they could have a sunset moment together and a glass of wine and say goodbye.

“It allowed them to be together in that moment, and I don’t think any other funeral company would be able to do that.”

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