Wins So Far
At First They Ignore You . . . .
1) Scope of Review
It took over two years and Ministerial intervention, but Death Without Debt did get the Minister of Health to direct the Ministry of Health (MoH) to look at why the NZ funeral industry enjoys a captive market. Sadly, the MoH's consultation process with Death Without Debt on this issue turned out to have been, mostly, a box ticking excercise. However the MoH did make one tiny concession to the situation and is thinking about listing all Medical Referees on a central database that would be accesible to the public and the medical profession. Much more is required, but it is a tiny step forward.
2) Regulation of the Funeral Industry Operators is Now Officially on the Table
The Ministry of Health is starting to look seriously at regulation of the funeral industry. Initially they didn't favour it but strong submissions from some big NGO's on this issue may have changed the MoH staff's mind.
3) Marae and Community Funeral Guides. Engagement. Finally
The Ministry is engaging with marae and community based, not-for-profit, funeral guides, (and also independent funeral guides) on enshrining the right to DIY the funeral process. There are well justified concerns the funeral industry could use registration to force low cost competition out of the market. The lack of consultation with Maori has finally been acknowledged. (Engaging with the TV's Tipenes and calling that consultation doesn't cut the mustard!)
4) Timely Attendance - On the Table
Timely attendance is an issue for small and remote communities. The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the need for timely attendance in rural areas by utilising nurses. Again, whether they come through and make this happen remains to be seen.
5) Sorting Dishonest Coffin Sales Practices - On the Table
The Ministry of Health is now engaging on getting clear and consistent, well communicated, guidelines out around coffins. Reversing decades of commercial indoctrination around the need for coffins will take a concerted effort on the part of a generally unwilling MoH. Let's keep a close watch on this one too.
6) Porirua City Council has, after two years of inaction, finally agreed to accept cremation boards at its crematorium at Whenua Tapu. Cremation boards are much cheaper than coffins but just as dignified. The body, wrapped in a shroud, is placed on a wooden board or piece of ply. Now we need the rest of NZ to follow.
7) Porirua City Council have also, finally, listed the name and contacts of their medical referee on their website. This saves people having to pay funeral directors "professional service fees" to track the medical referee down. Now we need the rest of the country to follow.