Salvos beancounter Malcolm Pittedrigh was half joking when he suggested the Army set up an undertaking business at a brainstorming session back in 2012. “We have clergy, we have facilities, all we need is a hearse or two and we are on our way,” he joked.

Salvos Funerals was recently launched, with the aim of rolling it out around Australia after a first phase in Sydney and the NSW central coast. Pittedrigh sees space for a funerals operator with ”transparent and fair pricing” that avoids “upselling to vulnerable people.”

An average funeral in Sydney, the most expensive city, might cost at least $8000, says Pittedrigh (although Choice magazine suggests a figure closer to $10,000). Perhaps 10 per cent less in Brisbane, or 10 to 15 per cent less in Melbourne, according to Pittedrigh.

Salvos Funerals will provide an “average” funeral with a ceremony, hearse and mortuary care for $4700. But they also plan to offer a cut-price option called “direct cremation” which takes a deceased person directly from a home or hospital to a crematorium, with no ceremony, for $2180.

Salvos Funerals will become the second major funeral operator owned by a faith-based group, alongside the Bethel company. “Built upon the principles of Christian love and compassion,” Bethel’s profits support Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia.

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