LOSING a loved one is hard enough without the added stress of paying for the funeral bill.

However, a social enterprise aims to take care of the funeral arrangements to ensure an affordable and meaningful final goodbye.

Tender Funerals is a not-for-profit franchise funeral service that aims to ensure that those experiencing financial hardship and distress are able to access personalised, purposeful and affordable funerals.

The Gippsland branch of Tender Funerals aims to cover the four shires of Latrobe, Wellington, South Gippsland and Baw Baw.

The community funeral service was set to hit the ground running in the region after securing a spot in the old SEC administration building in Yallourn, but due to changed circumstances with the building management, Tender Funerals has had to look for a new home.

Having worked in the funeral industry before as a death doula, Tender Funerals Gippsland Director, Kellie Vickers, needed a change.

“I knew there was something better than this (the funeral industry). I knew there was something better than what we were doing,” she said.

Ms Vickers explained that Tender is a, “not-for-profit funeral service that provides affordable and meaningful end-of-life services for everybody”.

“We are bringing death and dying back into the hands of the community where it once was,” she added.

The average funeral cost in Australia is about $8000. Many can cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000.

Tender’s funerals cost from $2600 to $4500, with coffins from under $500.

“Everyone deserves to have a meaningful end-of-life service, and you shouldn’t be excluded because you can’t afford that,” Ms Vickers said.

The Tender business model is to charge what it costs. For those who can afford it, Tender asks for only $250 to go towards a benevolent fund to help pay for the less fortunate.

Affordable: One burial option that Tender Funerals provides is the Daisy Box, which is economical but can be decorated to suit individual style. Photographs supplied


Unlike the funeral industry (worth around 2.2 billion annually), Tender is built upon community involvement and volunteers.

Ms Vickers said that Tender would have a positive social impact on Gippsland, but unfortunately, the team at Tender can’t start until they have a headquarters.

The enterprise was offered a position alongside the Newborough Men’s Shed in the old SEC building for a 10-year period.

The Express understands that after securing a building to operate in, Tender applied for a federal infrastructure grant of $2 million.

The grant was approved, but once circumstances changed within building management, Tender was no longer in a position to stay in the building.

Having run many community information sessions, Tender Funerals Gippsland is already educating people about their options regarding end-of-life service and just opening conversations about death that are often not spoken.

“I think if there are any elements of our lives that we can help each other, it’s by getting death and dying out there and discussing it,” Ms Vickers said.

In charge: Tender Funerals Gippsland Director, Kellie Vickers.

In 2016, Tender Funerals Australia was established with the sole purpose of supporting communities to establish a Tender Funerals service in their own areas.

The issue, according to Tender Funerals, is that traditional funeral services are often very expensive, one-size-fits-all and are not focused on caring for grief.

Tender’s birthplace in Port Kembla, New South Wales mirrors Gippsland – an industrial region undergoing a transition.

The franchise aims to establish 11 additional sites to its two functioning in Illawarra and Mid North Coast, New South Wales. So far, Tender has organised more than 1700 funerals from their two sites, with people from all walks of life engaging in their services.

Ms Vickers has been in touch with multicultural communities within the region, and has discussed a myriad of potential services available for unique burial, mortuary, cultural and religious needs.

With opportunities to wash and dress your lost loved one – and with chances to send off the dead in a meaningful way, the not-for-profit franchise aims to put tenderness at the forefront at the end-of-life.

Tender Funerals Gippsland is looking for volunteers and a space to operate. If you would like to help or find out more, head to the Tender Funerals Gippsland Facebook page or go to