3 April 2024

'People are yearning for this' - Canberra is getting a compassionate and affordable way to farewell loved ones

| Dione David
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Digital render of Tender Funerals in Canberra

Artist impressions show how Moltus Construction will make the most of skylights and clever design to create gorgeous, bright interiors for Tender Funerals. Image: Eldane and Moltus.

With good bones and an “unorthodox approach”, construction has commenced on the new home of compassionate, affordable and meaningful funeral services in Canberra.

Respected not-for-profit organisation Tender Funerals is slated to arrive in Canberra by early June, thanks, in part, to a $1 million commitment from the Snow Foundation.

The Capital Airport Group contracted Moltus Construction, with whom they have worked extensively, to transform the premises at 49 Laverton Avenue, Fairbairn, into a purpose-fit, comprehensive facility.

Originally the RAAF Officer’s Mess, the site will include beautiful outdoor areas, two arrangement rooms, viewing or vigil rooms, wash and dress rooms, a mortuary and a community space for workshops and ceremonies, all designed to empower families to understand their end-of-life and funeral options.

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The 520 sqm space has already been stripped back to its shell, and artist impressions show gorgeous, bright interiors that Moltus Construction managing director Mayukah Senanayake says will be rewarding to deliver.

“The building has good bones, with large, open spaces and high ceilings. With some skylights and a clever design brief, it will become a light and airy design that will retain some of the beautiful original structural features,” he says.

“It’s a bit of an unorthodox approach, but we’re excited to deliver it to the Canberra community and are thrilled that our client, Capital Airport Group, has entrusted us with this work.”

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron says the Foundation’s financial commitment would help address a great need in Canberra and build on the Foundation’s legacy of giving in its home community.

“For the past 32 years, since my father founded the Foundation with his brother, it’s grown from supporting Canberra to supporting many national opportunities, but Canberra is its origin, and we will always commit to the betterment of the national capital,” she said.

“Tender Funerals fits into this vision. Caring for those who are dying is an under-supported area in the philanthropic sector. We’re not very good at talking about dying – it’s too hard.

“We want to make a difference in that area and help offer dignity and a respectful opportunity for people to farewell their loved ones at the end of life.”

Tender Funerals is renowned for its commitment to offering affordable funeral services, with packages often costing about half that of their commercial counterparts.

But Ms Byron said while this helped meet the significant demand for more economically fair funeral services in the national capital, the company’s compassionate approach resonated most.

“They take a personal, meaningful and culturally safe approach to offering funerals,” she said.

“There are about 3500 funerals every year in the Canberra region, and Tender Funerals hopes to offer about 400 a year, so it will be pivotal in providing compassionate, affordable and inclusive funeral services to the people of the region.

“Canberra will be Tender Funerals’ third site, but the organisation is actively working with nine other communities across Australia to establish more. I think this demonstrates that people are yearning for this, and it’s not necessarily something they want to outsource to a big entity. They are looking for a more careful, considered, dignified way to farewell their loved ones, at a more accessible price point.”

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The Snow Foundation, which has also supported Canberra hospice service Clare Holland House and end-of-life social enterprise The Violet Initiative, has worked with Tender Funerals on the project for three years, providing seed funding for a feasibility study and helping find the right site.

Their $1 million commitment includes a $750,000 grant, a $250,000 loan, and a significant partnership with Capital Airport Group, which is providing pro bono resourcing.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of May, and the handover will be finalised by early June.


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Gregg Heldon7:07 am 07 Apr 24

Quick question. If the Snow group own land on the RAAF side of the airport, then why don’t they build some affordable housing out there? Surely they could build 2/3 bed houses out there with double glazing and a solar panel or two and sell them for around the $400k mark since they already own the land.
Even a low level (2 stories) apartment block could be done too.
People would buy them. I would, to get on the property ladder.

Capital Retro11:36 am 07 Apr 24

I don’t think they own the land, it is probably leased.

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