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'Last rites after cremation should be part of funeral expenses': Family of international student petitions Victorian government

Gauravdeep Singh (left with is elder brother Hardip Narinder Singh Narang (right) Source: Supplied

Gauravdeep Singh Narang lost his life in a tragic car crash last month. An online petition started by his brother Hardip Narinder Singh Narang is now calling on TAC (Transport Accident Commission) to consider changing their rules so that bereaved families like his can be covered for the cost of repatriating ashes to India as part of the last rites of a person killed in a road accident.

The cremation of Gauravdeep Singh Narang who lost his life in a tragic car crash while on his way back home in Melbourne last month, was held on September 12.

However, his remains are still waiting to be repatriated to his aged parents in India, because of the huge cost involved in the whole process.


Highlights:


The 27-year-old international student was on his way home after finishing his day’s work as a food delivery driver when he died in a tragic car crash last month.

Whilst his elder brother Hardip Narinder Singh Narang, who lives with his wife and daughter in Melbourne, was able to attend Gauravdeep’s funeral on September 12, but their elderly parents could not due to their mother's ill health and the COVID-19 travel restrictions. Their parents' only wish is to receive their son's ashes in India, so they can at least conduct the last rites.

TAC should consider last rituals after cremation to be a part of funeral expense: Hardip Narinder Singh Narang
Gauravdeep Singh Narang lost his life in a tragic car crash last month
Supplied

Financial help to support the funeral and cremation expenses was provided by TAC (Transport Accidental Commission), but the claim to support the expense of repatriation of the ashes to India was rejected.

Inconsolable after losing his younger brother, Mr Narang says, “ever since this tragedy happened my elderly mother who has paralysis has gone into grave shock and her health is deteriorating every day and she could not travel to Australia to perform last rights of Gauravdeep’s cremation.”

TAC has rejected the claim to support the expense of repatriation of Gauravdeep’s ashes to India

In a statement to SBS Punjabi Mr Narang said, “I am now the sole breadwinner of the family and don’t have the means to support everything on my salary as a chef here. I also have to repay Gauravdeep’s education loan and support my elderly parents emotionally and financially.”

TAC should consider last rituals after cremation to be a part of funeral expense: Hardip Narinder Singh Narang
Mr Narang requested TAC to support the repatriation of his ashes to India
Supplied

“I requested TAC to support us to repatriate my brother's ashes to India so that my parents could perform his last rights according to our tradition because as per our culture there is a ritual of immersion of the ashes after the cremation and without that the cremation is considered incomplete. But TAC rejected my claim to support the expense of taking Gauravdeep’s ashes to my parents in India,” Mr Narang told SBS Punjabi.

TAC should consider last rituals after cremation to be a part of funeral expense: Hardip Narinder Singh Narang
TAC rejected the claim to support the expense of taking Gauravdeep’s ashes to India
Supplied

Mr Narang says he has started an online petition demanding that TAC should consider last rites and rituals to be a part of the funeral expenses. It has already attracted over 450 signatures.

He says, “We consider ourselves covered by TAC as we pay a heavy premium on our registration, but there are many small issues which TAC’s policy, and this could make big difference in people’s life.”

“According to the current policy, TAC covers the funeral and cremation cost if someone dies in a road accident in Victoria, but these laws only cover the funeral cost as per Australian culture and do not support the cost of last rituals performed in our culture,” said Mr Narang. "Since Australia is a multicultural country, rules and laws must reflect various cultural needs."

Under Transport Accident Act (1986) there is no provision to pay for international travel for repatriation.

TAC is a Victorian Government-owned organisation whose role is to promote road safety, support to those who have been injured or died in a road accident.

In a statement to SBS Punjabi, a spokesperson from TAC said, “there is no provision in the Transport Accident Act (1986) to pay for international travel for repatriation.

“The TAC is able to fund the cost of the funeral and cremation – maximum payable under this benefit is $16,200”

“TAC covers the reasonable cost of travel and accommodation in Australia for immediate families to attend the services, if their residence is more than 100km away (up to $5,400.00),”

“Under the Transport Accident Act 1986, the TAC can only pay for services inside Australia.”

The grief-stricken family has also set up a GoFundMe page and has been able to raise around $40,000 to enable Mr Narang to help repay Gauravdeep’s education loan that he took to fulfil his Australian dream.

Click on the player in the lead image to listen to the interview in Punjabi.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am.

The only reasons for Melbourne residents to leave home during these hours are for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative.  

The full list of restrictions can be found here.  

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.  
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. 

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

 

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