Julie Power for the Sydney Moring Herald writes

Sam Aulton's husband and young daughters weren't ready to say goodbye when the 46-year-old died in hospital last December of complications associated with breast cancer.

Instead of an undertaker ushering Ms Aulton's corpse away to a funeral home where strangers would have prepared her for cremation and the standard 45-minute chapel service three to five days later, the East Maitland family brought the rock-singer, mother and campaigner home.

About 160,000 Australians die every year, generating $1.1 billion a year for the funeral industry, including cremations and burials. About 37 per cent of the market is dominated by Invocare, which owns a range of funeral homes, crematoria and coffin businesses. Now the industry is seeing a range of new players providing greater choice, more transparent pricing, more affordable options, and the promise of doing good for others.

funeral numbers

Last year Picaluna and Salvos Funerals did a pilot to test the affordable funeral market. They've since launched separate businesses. The Salvos promise affordable funerals – including a no-attendance, no-service cremation for $2180 – with profits reinvested back into the charity. Picaluna donates a percentage of its profits to charity, and runs an online portal – with funeral celebrants as guides – so bereaved families can pick and choose what they want.

In Port Kembla, the not-for-profit company Tender Funerals has also tapped a real need, organising around 50 funerals since it launched in September. Founder Jennifer Briscoe-Hough said families came to her not because it was affordable, but because it was fair.

Read it all at the SMH