Northern Cemeteries named in top 10 not-for-profit innovators

Northern Cemeteries has been recognised for its innovative approach to funeral services during COVID-19 after being named on the 2020 AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies List.

The prestigious annual list published by The Australian Financial Review and Boss Magazine is based on a rigorous assessment process in conjunction with a panel of industry expert judges.

Northern Cemeteries was among 600 organisations across Australia and New Zealand who were assessed on how valuable the problem is that their innovation is solving, the quality and uniqueness of the solution, and the level of impact the innovation has had. 

The accolade was awarded in the Not-for-Profit Innovation category with Northern Cemeteries ranked ninth for its customer service pivot to providing Virtual Funeral Services during strict COVID-19 gathering control.

Northern Cemeteries CEO Pauline Tritton said demand for the innovative offering grew rapidly when the number of people attending chapel and funeral services was limited to a maximum of only 10 mourners, preventing grieving family and friends from physically attending.

“We were able to respond swiftly and effectively with our live webcasting capability already in operation at our Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium site,” Mrs Tritton explained.

“As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded we experienced an 80% take-up rate during the first three months compared to the usual 10% of chapel services requesting access to the free service.”

Virtual services allow families to submit video and audio eulogies which are then produced into a presentation that is played in both the chapel and over a webcast platform. This permits anyone in any location around the world to be part of the live-streaming funeral service.

“During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation we needed to be extremely mindful of how social isolation would add further distress to those who had lost a family member or friend. Being able to offer a virtual funeral service proved so important to supporting the grieving process.”

Mrs Tritton said she was extremely proud of the 2020 AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies List acknowledgement and that the organisation plans to build on developing further innovative approaches.

“Receiving this type of recognition reflects the ongoing care and connection we strive to always provide for our community – whether on the ground or online,” Mrs Tritton said.