Australia Death Care Market
The ownership and operations of cemeteries, memorial parks and crematoria in Australia is largely the responsibility of state or local authorities. Suppliers of funeral products traditionally enter the Australian market by working with an existing distributor.
In most states and territories in Australia, the ownership and operation of cemeteries, memorial parks and crematoria remains largely the responsibility of local or state government authorities. There has been some privatization of cemeteries and crematoria operations in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. No privatization has taken place in Western Australia or Victoria.
Across Australia there are about 900 funeral director businesses that have traditionally been small family-owned businesses. In the mid-1990s two U.S. companies – SCI and Stewarts Enterprises entered the market and bought out a few operations. They exited the market in the early 2000s. Their businesses became InvoCare and Bledisloe. Then in 2011, InvoCare acquired Bledisloe giving the group an estimated market share of 35 percent. Propel Funeral Partners controls 70 funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria across all states and is the second largest operator in Australia. Other key players are Tobin Brothers in Victoria, David Walker in NSW, KM Smith in Queensland and Bowra and O’Dea in Western Australia.
Australia has a total population of approximately 24 million and it is ageing. Australia’s median age is 37 years and over the past two decades it has risen by 4.7 years. By 2020 Australia will have more 65 year olds than one year olds. The life expectancy is 80.4 years for males and 84.5 years for females. The last national census was undertaken in 2016. It found the major religion in Australia was Christianity. The largest denominations were Catholic (22.6%), Anglican (13.3%), Uniting Church (3.7%), Presbyterian and Reformed (2.3%) and Eastern Orthodox (2.1%). 30.1% of Australians were not aligned to any religion.
Australian authorities place no significant restrictions on the import or export of human remains. There is generally no need to make an import declaration when human remains or ashes are imported into Australia for cultural or religious ceremonies. However, an import declaration may be required if they are imported for other reasons. An import permit may also be required for human remains if they are not accompanied by official documentation such as a birth certificate or an official register extract stating cause of death. In addition, the Australian consignee for imports of human remains must be: a licensed funeral director; an entity approved for disposal of bodies; or a scientific institution which will undertake work such as an autopsy.
Given the high degree of industry concentration, there are relatively few suppliers and distributors of products to the funeral industry. However, suppliers of funeral products traditionally enter the Australian market by working with an existing distributor.
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