Recession sees pauper funerals rise in Australia

Tue May 12, 2009 11:36pm EDT
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Pauper funerals, with sometimes six bodies to a grave, are increasing in Australia and charities are expecting the trend to deepen due to the economic recession, local media reported on Wednesday.

Australia's most populous state New South Wales (NSW) is burying three to four people a week in pauper graves, compared with an average of one a week last year, said Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Victoria state expects to bury 200 paupers in 2009, up from 150 last year, and 350 to 400 paupers in the next few years.

"There has been a noticeable increase over the past 6 to 12 months," NSW Coroner's office spokesman John Merrick said.

"The person is generally buried...six persons to a grave. The graves go deep, there is one person then a bit of dirt," Merrick told the newspaper.

Victorian organization Charity Bereavement Assistance said it was receiving 6 to 20 inquiries a day from people who were worried they would not be able to meet funeral costs, the Herald Sun newspaper reported in Melbourne.

"With the way the economy is going we expect to get a lot more. Rest assured times are getting tougher."

The global financial crisis has sent Australia's economy into its first recession since the early 1990s, forcing the government to announce a record A$53 billion ($40.49 billion) deficit on Tuesday to try and stimulate the economy and save jobs.

(Reporting by Michael Perry; Editing by Miral Fahmy)