We're on a mission.

The mission of the AHFA is for every person dying in Australia to have access to a home funeral.

AHFA is the Australian national peak body for home funerals and family led death care and we:

  • Advocate for ethical, safe, sustainable and inclusive practices;

  • Educate individuals, families, communities and practitioners;

  • Raise awareness of options to make informed choices;

  • Encourage a healthier culture of death and ceremony;

  • Create and distribute resources;

  • Promote respectful service delivery for best practice and outcome; and

  • Lobby government, advise and communicate with regulatory bodies for policy development and uniform legislative change. 

 

AHFA sits as a bridge between community and professional knowledge, advocating for evidence-based best practice standards and an increase of people's agency and capacity. By bringing together community and professional voices, AHFA aims to foster a healthier culture around death and dying.

How did we get here?

In 2018, our board president, Rebecca Lyons was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate the human relationship to death and ceremony through alternate approaches and technologies. Her Fellowship travel consisted of 21 flights, 4 train journeys, 2 car hires, 3 chauffeurs, 4 translators, 2 conferences, 49 deliberate individual conversations, 2 group meetings, 1 public talk and scores of random engagements!

Applying for a Churchill Fellowship was an opportunity to expand and learn from others overseas working in the space of end of life.

In her travels she met with End of Life Doulas, Funeral Directors, community members, CEOs, Entrepreneurs, advocates, inventors and volunteers looking at alternatives to contemporary burial and cremation as body disposal techniques and also at the ways in which alternate approaches to end of life are increasing community capacity and offering improved grief and bereavement outcomes for families.

When she returned she wrote a report about her findings, documenting all of the incredible concepts, new introductions and the many disruptions occurring in the end of life space in the western world. 

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At the conclusion of the report, Bec made a series of 13 recommendations for ways forward in Australia, three of those recommendations were as follows:

· Need for infrastructure developed in Australia that can govern, plan and direct these new end of life services. Establish membership-based organisations and/or a peak body to hold the standards for practice and manage the credentialing.

· A Foundation Charity should be established to fund those who are in marginalised communities to receive the training and be able to better serve their communities.

· Educational courses should be established and offered within the funeral industry, potentially through peak body conferences and seminars to provide learning to the contemporary directors on the value and space that the Doula role holds for families at end of life. From these, partnerships can be built to encourage end of life professionals to work together towards better end of life outcomes for the community.

Not content with simply establishing recommendations for Australia Bec went about determining what that might look like and how she could create something tangible for the Australian community. She set out to gather people from across Australia and the globe for a conversation about raising the death literacy level in Australia around Home and Family Led Funerals. It was a Saturday in May 2020 and we came together via Zoom where Bec pitched the idea of AHFA. Many months and meetings later we have planned a vision, established a company and applied for charity DGR status. We're excited about where we go from here.

  • Providing advice, consultancy, and resources to individuals, families and communities to assist them to deal effectively with end of life, dying, after death, loss, grief and bereavement experiences;

  • Advocating for evidence-based legislation to promote better bereavement outcomes when accessing end of life and after death care services;

  • Promoting and educating families and communities in the safe handling of the deceased in alignment with the current legislative requirements;

  • Conducting community-based projects and research to develop a healthy approach to end of life and after death issues;

  • Providing culturally appropriate funeral information and education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and families from all cultural and language diverse communities;

  • Engaging in community wide activities to promote healthy attitudes and responses to death, dying and bereavement;

  • Providing advocacy and disseminate information to families who are making end of life and after death plans when a person is nearing death, including advance care planning; and

  • Supporting and undertake research and evaluation to enhance end of life, after death, loss, grief and bereavement knowledge and practice.

Our Values

Our Aims

The Association is a non-profit organisation which strives to educate communities, raise death literacy rates, to alleviate suffering, misfortune, helplessness, distress and poverty caused by end of life, dying, death, loss, grief and bereavement experiences, through:

  • Raising public awareness about end of life choices, specifically in the bereavement period, to encourage and promote mental health wellbeing;

  • Preventing and reducing the impact of complex bereavement experiences on mental health through community education and professional development for various stakeholders;

  • Promoting evidence-based practices to enable social, emotional and mental wellbeing in bereavement, especially when there is a sudden or traumatic death;

  • Providing a range of innovative, sustainable and evidence informed training courses for support of the after death experience;

  • Providing advocacy and representation on the after death experience, loss, grief, and bereavement issues to inform policy development, raise community awareness;

  • Engaging and educate other service providers about their policy approaches to after death, family led and home funeral issues;

  • Disseminating information, resources, and literature about after death care, funeral, loss, grief, and bereavement for the emotional and mental wellbeing of the community;

We support the rights of people to care for their own dead, to choose and participate in a home funeral and family led death care; with access to

  • · Ethical information, education and resources;

  • · A broad range of options to make affordable and informed choices;

  • The co-creation of meaningful and appropriate ceremony;

  • · Respectful, inclusive and competent care and support; and

  • · Natural and sustainable choices for reducing negative environmental impact.

Meet the Board

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Rebecca Lyons

Chair

Dr. Pia Interlandi

Deputy Chair

Treasurer

Secretary

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Suzanne Obando

Communications

Dr. Kerrie Nooan

Research

Claire Turnham MBE

Education

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Sarah Bartley

Membership