- Australian funerals range from $4000 to $15,000
- Director Fees usually make up 39% of the total funeral cost
- Perth had the highest average cost of funeral at $7764
- Canberra had the lowest average cost of funeral at $6131
The average funeral in Australia can cost between $4000 for a basic cremation to around $15,000 for an extravagant affair complete with casket, burial and flowers. Because of the many customisable elements in a funeral there are no fixed or set prices.
When asked, the average Australian expected to pay between $4000 and $7000 for a funeral. In 2016 the Australian funeral industry was approximately worth $1 billion. The industry is dominated by InvoCare, a listed company with a 40% market share, mainly concentrated on the east coast.
Funerals in Australia are often sold as bundles rather than separate items, making it hard to know what the money is actually going towards. Given that the average person is judged to be in a vulnerable emotional state when organising a funeral, there has been considerable public demand for greater transparency for funeral costs.
Burial vs cremation costs
A 2016 report showed that Professional Services Fees (or Director fees) accounted for up to 39% of the revenue generated by funeral companies. But was considered by the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry as the least transparent cost associated with funerals. Coffins and caskets make up 31% of the total revenue but reports show that the mark-up pricing can be considerable to offset other areas of the business.
Funeral costs breakdown
Funeral director – Professional services fee
Funeral directors charge a fee for professional services, namely the time they spend:
- organising meetings and grief support
- liaising with cemeteries
- transporting the deceased
- embalming or preparing the body
- organising florists and newspaper notices
- supplying the hearse and staff for the day
- completing legal paperwork and documentation.
This is typically a set fee billed to you in advance.
Coffin or casket
This is usually one of the biggest costs of a funeral, with prices ranging from $800 to more than $15,000.
The variation in costs comes down to the quality of and detail in the coffin. It’s thankfully also one of the easiest parts of the funeral to personalise, as you can make a decision based on personal tastes as well as cost considerations.
Burial or cremation
The average cost of a burial is about $4500, whereas a cremation can be slightly cheaper at about $3600, though prices can vary substantially.
A single grave can cost anywhere from $2970 to $4800, depending on the cemetery. And that doesn’t usually include labour costs for opening and closing the grave or ongoing upkeep.
A simple memorial plaque can cost between $1500 and $3500, though some cemeteries might include this cost in the grave price
Cremation costs typically include use of the crematorium facilities and staff labour during the cremation. You may pay more to receive the ashes in an urn and keep them in a niche or wall; it costs you nothing to scatter the ashes.
The personal touches are the things one remembers at a funeral or a wake. The flowers, the service booklet, framed photographs, and video projections – maybe even balloons or complimentary champagne – are the things that can define a funeral. But they are all likely to cost money.
Of course, you can always make choices based on your budget. You can stick to simple flower arrangements, for example. Or you can request everyone bring their favourite photo of the deceased and clip them onto pieces of string.
As a parting celebration, you want a funeral to be memorable. You want it to capture that person’s life and personality, to elicit a smile from your guests at the mention of a fond memory, and to touch the hearts of all who attend to commemorate and commiserate.
Funerals are a tricky business. You want to show the full extent of your love and the depths of your grief for your lost loved one. You want to throw a celebration the deceased would be proud of. And that can make you inclined to celebrate their life in style, to go the whole hog, regardless of the costs.
Ultimately, a memorable funeral isn’t about the amount of flowers in the chapel or the location of the burial plot. It’s about remembering an amazing life that was lived, and coming together to celebrate it.
The average funeral cost by city
A 2017 survey revealed the average funeral costs for different cities. The results showed that where you live will likely impact the cost of the funeral. The most expensive city to hold a funeral was Perth with an average funeral costing $7,764.
Compared with other countries around the world, the average Australian funeral is on the lower scale of the price spectrum.
In the US, funeral costs can range from AUD $9000 to $13,000.
Japanese funerals can cost from AUD $4000 to $12,000 with particular emphasis given to the preparation of the service.
Funerals in the UK can cost between AUD $6000 and $10,000, largely depending on the region.