Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at modern-day Australian funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Check out this article to learn about Indigenous Australian funeral traditions.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
Australia Death Rate
According to a 2014 McCrindle study commissioned by the Australian Funeral Directors Association (AFDA), Australians are living longer. The life expectancy age rose to 82 years old. And the highest number of deaths occurred between ages 85 to 89, which is one in five of all deaths.
Australia also saw an increase in population and a decline in the death rate. Below are a few of the study’s major findings about the declining death rate:
- The death rate is 6.5 deaths per 1,000, down from 6.9 about a decade ago.
- There are twice as many births as deaths with 300,000 annual births and less than 150,000 annual deaths.
- More men than women die per year. But the gap is decreasing from about a decade ago when 107 men died for every 100 women to now 103 men for every 100 women.
- Australia’s winter months (June, July, August) have higher death rates. June’s death rate is 11% above the monthly average, July is 26% above, and August is 24% above.
Australian Funeral Service
As of 2016, Australia has a variety of popular religions, including about 30% of the population declaring no religion. About 23% of the population identifies as Catholic, about 16% as Christian, and there are also several other common religions. For this reason, some funeral services are at churches while others are at non-religious locations.
An Australian funeral is usually about a week after the death and most people wear black clothing. Like in North America, funeral personalization is a popular funeral trend. Many people want more music, non-traditional funerals such as an outdoor service, and other special requests for unique memorial services.
Cremation Versus Burial
Again similar to North America, cremation is becoming more popular than burial. The lack of burial space and the high cost of burial plots are two contributing factors. According to an AFDA poll, two in three Australians (66%) prefer cremation over burial when planning their own funeral. Only one in five (20%) would choose burial and 14% had no preference. Green burial traditions also are on the rise with people choosing eco-friendly burial options.