17 October 2018

Government flags use of renewable tenure of burial sites to relieve pressure on ACT's cemeteries

| Lachlan Roberts
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The ACT Government is exploring the option of renewable tenure of burial sites to relieve pressure on the ACT’s three cemeteries. File Photo

The ACT Government is asking the Canberra community to have their say on the future and sustainability of cemeteries and crematoria in the ACT as the Government explores the option of renewable tenure of burial sites to relieve pressure on the ACT’s three cemeteries.

A review of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 is underway to identify regulatory changes that will ensure management of cemeteries and crematoria in the ACT is contemporary, sustainable, flexible, and meets the needs of all Canberrans.

The review will explore a diverse range of burial, cremation and similar services, with the option of renewable tenure of burial sites. Renewable tenure is the process of purchasing rights for use of a burial site (or another interment site) for a specified period of time only, rather than forever.

Minister for City Services Chris Steel said renewable tenure of burial sites is not a new concept and is being adopted widely, including in NSW, WA and SA, where the tenure periods for burial sites start at 25 years and range up to 99 years.

Mr Steel said the subject of renewable tenure is likely to be uncomfortable for some people but it’s important to have a serious conversation about the ongoing sustainability of the ACT’s cemeteries.

Mr Steel said the Government is not proposing that any renewable tenure scheme would apply retrospectively.

“There will be no changes to the tenure arrangements of existing burial sites and, if a renewable tenure scheme is introduced, there will still be the option to purchase a site in perpetuity,” Mr Steel said.

“We will be asking the community if the current burial and cremation services in the ACT meet the needs of all religious and culturally diverse backgrounds and if they are interested in alternative burial and cremation practices.

“The review will also look at the sustainability of cemeteries and crematoria in the ACT, with consideration to be given to the current tenure of burial sites.”

The opening of community contribution comes as a new southside crematorium, memorial park and funeral home has been proposed for Symonston, which would relieve pressure on Norwood Park, Gungahlin Cemetery and the near-capacity Woden Cemetery.

Expressions of interest are now open for participation in focus groups, or you can complete a survey online or in hard copy at ACT public library branches to inform the review.

The consultation closes on 10 December.

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