The department will be closed from Wednesday 27 December 2023 to Monday 1 January 2024. We will respond to queries in the New Year. Best wishes for a safe and happy festive season.
Please note: This document contains information that may cause readers to experience emotions such as grief and anxiety. If you feel you would like to speak to someone, please contact: Lifeline WA: 13 11 14 or 13YARN — 24/7 (national crisis line
support for Indigenous Australians).
The State Government recognises the importance to the Western Australian community of good governance regarding burial and cremation services. It is committed to ensuring that the legislation regulating the interment industry is responsive to community
expectations and industry needs.
The Cemeteries Act 1986 and the Cremation Act 1929 may need to be modernised as they have not been substantially reviewed or amended since their introduction.
We are seeking your feedback on the adequacy and effectiveness of these Acts, in particular, on the following topics:
Your views are important in ensuring that legislation in this area provides effective regulatory oversight of the interment sector so that all Western Australians can continue to access high-quality and dignified interment services in times of bereavement.
Hon David Michael MLAMinister for Local Government
Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson MLAMinister for Health
The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) is undertaking a public consultation as part of a review (the Review) of the Cremation Act 1929 (Cremation Act) and the Cemeteries Act 1986 (Cemeteries Act). The aim of the Review
is to consider the adequacy and effectiveness of both Acts and relevant subsidiary legislation, and obtain feedback from the public, community groups, local government and stakeholders to inform potential legislative reforms that aim to strengthen
regulatory oversight of the funeral industry and reflect contemporary needs and expectations of both the community and industry.
This Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement is presented as a discussion paper that identifies topics regarding the effectiveness of the current legislation. Feedback on the review can be provided via:
DLGSC has prepared online surveys for the key issues in this discussion paper to assist you in providing a response. You can access each survey via the following links:
You may choose to complete any or all of the surveys, which will be used to gather and analyse feedback provided in addition to written submissions.
When providing a written submission, you may wish to:
In providing your response, please explain the reasons behind your comments and where possible, provide evidence to support your views. This may be in the form of statistics, publications or other illustrative examples.
Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com or posted to:
Cemeteries and Cremation Acts ReviewPO Box 8349Perth Business Centre WA 6849
The consultation period is open for comment for 3 months, with submissions closing 5pm on Friday 16 February 2024.
Submissions will be treated as public documents unless explicitly requested otherwise. A summary of feedback will be released publicly after the consultation period has closed.
If you do not consent to your submission being treated as a public document, you should mark it as confidential, or specifically identify the confidential information, and include an explanation.
Please note, even if your submission is treated as confidential by DLGSC, it may still be disclosed in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (WA), or any other applicable written law.
DLGSC reserves the right to redact any content that could be regarded as racially vilifying, derogatory or defamatory to an individual or an organisation.
The then Minister for Health and the then Minister for Local Government announced the Review in Parliament on 10 September 2020. The review is being undertaken by the DLGSC on behalf of the Minister for Local Government, in consultation with the community,
the Department of Health, the MCB, regional cemetery boards, local government and industry stakeholders.
Given the substantially unchanged legislation governing cemeteries and crematoria in Western Australia (WA), it was identified by the then Minister for Local Government that the following topics should be addressed through the review process:
To adequately address the breadth and complexity of these key issues, the DLGSC has been informed by consultation with industry focus groups, relevant sector stakeholders, and the interagency Cemeteries and Cremation Act Review Working Group in the production
of this paper and the online surveys.
Extensive early targeted stakeholder consultation was undertaken by the DLGSC to refine and guide the issues now presented for broader public consultation. Methods of consultation were tailored to best suit the needs and requirements of each stakeholder
group and included electronic and hard copy surveys, in-person workshops, meetings, correspondence via email, correspondence via telephone and webinars.
Stakeholders engaged with included members of the Western Australian funeral and monumental mason industries, medical referees, regional and metropolitan cemetery Boards, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, Native Title Prescribed Body Corporates,
the WA Local Government Association (WALGA), Local Government Professionals WA, and the AFDA.
This public consultation is being undertaken with the aim of obtaining feedback from the public and stakeholders to inform potential legislative reforms to provide Western Australians with legislation that is responsive to community expectations and industry
needs; and provides contemporary regulatory oversight of the funeral industry.
The key focus of this Review is to obtain stakeholder feedback on a range of issues identified within the WA cemetery and cremation industry. Analysis of various reform options for managing these issues is provided, including potential advantages and
disadvantages for industry, consumers and government. All feedback received from this consultation will be considered and will assist in informing potential legislative reforms.
The Cemeteries Act has not been substantially updated since its commencement, and although the Cremation Act has had various amendments, most minor, neither Act reflects contemporary practices and current legislative drafting standards. Public
attitudes towards cremation and burial have shifted, and significant changes in technology have naturally occurred. These changes may need to be better reflected in the legislation.
The current legislative framework only provides for the disposal of human remains by burial and cremation by fire and does not regulate alternative methods for the disposal of human remains. Issues of sustainability and environmental consciousness continue
to evolve and grow, new and alternative methods of disposal for human remains have emerged in Australia and overseas, for example, natural burials. Currently, the Cemeteries Act enables relevant local governments and cemetery boards to make their
own local laws and by-laws respectively regarding how burials are to take place and the specifications and materials for burials. This has led to inconsistencies between the approaches of local governments and cemetery boards regarding what services
they provide and the way these services are performed.
Under Part V, Division 4 of the Cemeteries Act, a local government or cemetery board can apply for Ministerial approval to implement a scheme to redevelop existing cemetery burial areas to accommodate new gravesites and memorial locations. This enables
cemetery boards and local governments to meet the burial needs of the community through the development of new burial land. The cemetery redevelopment and renewal program at Karrakatta Cemetery is a community issue that highlights the complexities
of cemetery sustainability.
The Cemeteries Act requires funeral directors to be licensed but does not require monumental masons to be licensed. However, cemetery boards and local governments may, under their cemetery by-laws or local laws, require monumental masons to apply for
a licence to carry out monumental works within the cemetery.
The current licensing system for funeral directors requires a service provider to apply for a separate licence for each cemetery that they wish to operate in. Accordingly, licensing requirements for funeral directors and monumental masons vary across
cemetery boards and local governments which may place an administrative burden on applicants who need to apply for multiple licences across different cemeteries.
Additionally, the Cemeteries Act does not prescribe any forms that cemetery boards and local governments can use in administering the Act. The form of applications, licences and notices are determined by each cemetery board and local government. Accordingly,
form requirements can vary between cemetery boards and local governments which can also result in an administrative burden on funeral directors, monumental masons and the public.
The disposal of deceased persons in WA is provided for in the Cemeteries Act, the Cremation Act and the Cremation Regulations 1954 (Cremation Regulations).
The Cemeteries Act is administered by the Minister for Local Government and deals with the:
The Cemeteries Act replaced the repealed Cemeteries Act 1897 and has not been substantively amended since 1 July 1987. There are no Regulations under the Cemeteries Act 1986.
The Cremation Act is administered by the Minister for Health and deals with the:
The Cremation Act was last substantially amended in 1953.
The content of the Cremation Regulations which are also administered by the Minister for Health, were last amended in 2012.
The Cemeteries Act enables cemetery Boards and local governments that manage cemeteries to make by-laws and local laws respectively, on matters detailed in section 55(1) of the Cemeteries Act. These local laws and by-laws generally regulate such
matters including, but not limited to:
Local laws and by-laws are reviewed and amended periodically by relevant cemetery boards and local governments.
The operation and administration of cemeteries and crematoria in WA is managed on a day-to-day basis by local governments and metropolitan or regional cemetery boards (cemetery authorities) that are State Government bodies. WA has over 200 cemeteries,
both open and closed, and 8 publicly owned crematoria which are situated within metropolitan and regional cemeteries.
The MCB is a statutory authority and a body corporate with perpetual succession, responsible to the Minister for Local Government, and with responsibilities as provided for by the Cemeteries Act and the Cremation Act. The MCB is a key provider of burial,
cremation and memorialisation facilities, services and records in WA, and is responsible for managing the following public cemeteries:
Fremantle Cemetery, Karrakatta Cemetery, Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park and Rockingham Regional Memorial Park all operate public crematoria onsite.
WA has several regional cemetery boards that operate as body corporates in perpetual succession under the Cemeteries Act 1986. These include:
Albany Cemetery Board, Bunbury Cemetery Board, Geraldton Cemetery Board, and Kalgoorlie-Boulder Cemetery Board all operate crematoria onsite.
Western Australian legislation currently covers 139 local government areas, including Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
There are currently 108 local government with responsibility for cemeteries, administering and/or maintaining around 200 cemeteries, both open and closed. Although some local governments are not directly responsible for the management of cemeteries, any
cemetery being operated in their local government area is subject to relevant local government planning requirements.
Given the legislation relating to cemeteries and crematoria currently falls across the State Government portfolios of health and local government, it may be argued that treating burials and cremations under 2 different legislative schemes is inefficient
and creates an unnecessary administrative burden on members of the funeral industry and the general public. As such, topic 1 proposes an option to combine the content of both Acts into a single Act.
In determining whether the Cemeteries Act and the Cremation Act should be combined, other considerations include the nature and quantity of amendments to be made to the legislation, current legislative drafting standards and practices, and which Minister
and State agency would be responsible for administering the legislation.
In most other jurisdictions, the management of cemeteries, burials and cremations are dealt with by a single Act. For example, in South Australia, burials and cremations are regulated by the Burial and Cremation Act 2013 (SA Act) and is administered by
the South Australian Attorney General’s Department, which falls under the portfolio responsibilities of the Minister for Planning and Local Government. Alternatively in New South Wales, the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013 (NSW Act) is administered
by the Minister for Lands and Water.
In Queensland, while cremations are governed by the Cremations Act 2003 (QLD Cremations Act), other methods of disposal are not regulated by statute. Burials and cremations in Queensland are generally regulated by local government authorities under local
laws and may be further regulated by State policy in relation to health or environmental impacts. Under the Burials Assistance Act 1965 (QLD Burials Act), the Department of Justice and Attorney-General is authorised to make funeral arrangements for
persons who have died in Queensland with no known next of kin who are willing or able to meet the cost of a funeral service. The QLD Cremations Act and the QLD Burials Act are both administered by the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General.
Issue 1: There are currently 2 separate Acts dealing with cemeteries and cremations.
Option 1: Retain status quo
Option 2: Combine the content of both Acts into a single Act
Please provide reasons for your responses.
Submit feedback on topic 1
The Cemeteries Act does not define a traditional burial, or other types of burials such as Aboriginal customary burials or natural burials, and how these are to be regulated. The regulatory responsibility lies on cemetery authorities to determine
how these are to be conducted. Some cemeteries in WA offer natural burials, including Bunbury Cemetery, Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park and Meekatharra Cemetery.
The Cremation Act does not define traditional cremation, or new method of cremation such as alkaline hydrolysis that essentially dissolves the body, commonly referred to as aquamation.
Section 7 of the Cremation Act provides for ashes to be delivered to the cremation permit holder when not buried at the site of the crematorium. Some cemetery authorities have requirements for the disposal of ashes within a cemetery, but there are
no requirements regarding the disposal of ashes outside a cemetery.
Burials at sea are regulated under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Commonwealth), which is administered by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. People seeking to arrange a burial at sea require a sea
dumping permit. No permit is required to scatter ashes at sea.
Natural burials are provided for in the NSW Act and the SA Act. In South Australia, natural burial grounds are treated separately from a cemetery.
In Victoria, the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (VIC Act) provides that the Secretary of the Department of Health can give approval for the use of a method other than cremation or burial either generally, or for a specific disposal.
In New South Wales, alkaline hydrolysis is included in the definition of cremation.
While alternative methods of disposal and natural burials are not dealt with in the QLD Burials Act, the Queensland Law Reform Commission has recommended that approval to dispose of a body other than by burial or cremation should sit with the relevant
The Northern Territory’s Cemeteries Act 1952 (NT Act) provides for burial and cremation.
Issue 2A.1: The Cemeteries Act does not provide definitions for types of burials.
Option 2: Legislation to provide for alternative methods of burial, refer to other types of burials and include a definition recognising traditional burials and alternative burials such as:
Regulations to provide standards as to how certain types of burials should be undertaken.
Issue 2A.2: Current legislation does not set out requirements for coffins, caskets, shrouds, etc.
Option 1: Retain status quo.
Option 2: Legislation to provide for requirements e.g. material, name plate, etc.
Submit feedback on topic 2
Issue 2B.1: The Cremation Act does not provide definitions for types of cremation.
Option 2: Legislation to provide a definition for cremation. Alternative methods of cremation to be prescribed in regulations.
Issue 2B.2: There are no legislative provisions in the Cremation Act for the disposal of ashes where they remain unclaimed from a crematorium.
Option 2: The legislation should regulate how a crematorium should dispose of unclaimed ashes after a certain period of time where the ashes remain unclaimed and notice requirements have been met.
Cemetery redevelopment is about redeveloping existing burial areas of the cemetery to allow for new burial areas and in doing so, meeting the ongoing burial needs of the community. The process of cemetery redevelopment can be likened to urban renewal.
In the case of cemetery redevelopment the land is retained for cemetery purposes, maintaining and conserving the use of land for burials for perpetuity and in the public interest.
The redevelopment of existing burial areas to accommodate new gravesites, memorial locations and mausoleum crypts is provided for in the Cemeteries Act under Part V, Division 4 — Redevelopment Schemes. The Cemeteries Act does not regulate how
a cemetery authority must go about redeveloping its existing cemetery but does provide that the authority must obtain Ministerial approval and undertake a community consultation process. Prior to a cemetery authority implementing a redevelopment
scheme, they must prepare a register of all burials and make a plan of the redevelopment area publicly available, inform holders of rights of burial of their right to object to the proposed scheme and provide notice of its intention to implement
the redevelopment scheme. A cemetery authority is required to consider each submission received during the consultation process and must not proceed with a redevelopment scheme if a specified area of that scheme is subject to an objection by the
holder of a right of burial.
While cemetery redevelopment allows cemetery authorities to maximise the use of cemetery land to ensure the sustainability of the cemetery, it is a sensitive issue that remains the subject of community debate.
An example of a cemetery redevelopment strategy includes cemetery renewal, which involves placing new graves between existing graves without disturbing the existing interred remains.
Cemetery renewal is currently a major cemetery redevelopment strategy undertaken at Karrakatta Cemetery as there is no further land available to expand the cemetery grounds and there is a continued demand for burials within the cemetery.2 The renewal program at Karrakatta Cemetery has evolved since it first commenced in the 1970s. Some elements of the current program are that:
The MCB does not currently receive any government grants or appropriation, and funds daily operations and infrastructure upkeep from monies paid by members of the public for products and services. Its cemeteries are currently cost neutral to the State
The renewal program at Karrakatta Cemetery has been the subject of significant public debate over many years, particularly in relation to concerns regarding the need to ensure that family histories and traditions are respected through the preservation
of headstones and the retention of war graves and memorials.
The MCB has conducted community market research indicating that, whilst not entirely comfortable with the concept, most families understand the rationale for the renewal program and support it as a means to keep Karrakatta Cemetery operating as a
full-service cemetery if the implementation continues to be undertaken in a respectful manner.
The NSW Act provides for the re-use of an interment site which is the subject of an expired renewable interment right and the removal of any memorial to a deceased person erected on or at the site, subject to certain conditions. The Rookwood General
Cemetery in New South Wales is the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere and it is expected that capacity will be reached by 2035 or sooner.
Strategies to maximise that cemetery’s remaining land include re-purposing existing infrastructure, conducting extensive audits of older areas and researching new technologies. An aboveground structure offering earth-style interments and a decomposition
project that could enable families to re-use their graves under renewable tenure for generations are examples of innovations under consideration.3
Under the SA Act, ownership of a gravesite reverts to the cemetery authority if the interment right has not been renewed or if a period of two years has elapsed since notice was given regarding the expiry of the interment right.
The site may then be re-used in accordance with the SA Act. All remains are recovered from the site and are placed within an ossuary box and re-interred at a lower depth in the same site; the site can then be re-sold. A cemetery authority in South
Australia also has general powers which enable it to expand the cemetery, improve the cemetery, restrict interments in any part of the cemetery or take any other action that it considers necessary or desirable for the proper management and maintenance
of the cemetery.
Under the VIC Act, a right of interment for a cremation memorial can be purchased for a period of 25 years, or in perpetuity. For 25-year rights, the option is given to renew the memorial at the end of that period, or to have the ashes scattered in
the cemetery grounds. If the holder of the right is uncontactable, the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust may scatter the ashes in accordance with the regulated process.
Issue 3A.1: The Cemeteries Act allows a cemetery authority to implement a cemetery redevelopment scheme provided that Ministerial approval is obtained following the completion of community consultation requirements.
Option 1: Retain current Ministerial approval process in legislation and make amendments to strengthen the effectiveness of public consultation requirements where needed.
Submit feedback on topic 3
Issue 3B.1: At Karrakatta Cemetery, cemetery renewal involves redeveloping existing cemetery burial areas to accommodate new gravesites, memorial locations and mausoleum crypts.
No existing remains are disturbed.
Option 2: Modify or enhance existing Karrakatta Cemetery redevelopment policies where feasible to address any community concerns identified through this consultation.
The Cemeteries Act provides that a deceased person must be buried in a proclaimed cemetery that is not closed. However, under Section 12 of the Cemeteries Act, the Minister for Local Government or his/her delegate may authorise the burial of a dead
body in a place other than a cemetery where the burial is to take place:
When making a decision whether a burial outside a proclaimed cemetery may take place, the Minister considers4:
Consideration is also given to whether the granting of the request will create a risk to health or other nuisance or cause reasonable offence to others. This may include requiring an environmental report to ensure any burial would not impact on a
public water supply or unreasonably damage the land.
Land reserved under the Land Administration Act 1997 (LAA) for the purposes of burials includes those cemeteries that have been closed. In this situation, a person may request burial with other members of their family who are already buried at these
The application must be accompanied by:
The consent of all parties with claim over the land area is required. In the case of Aboriginal burials in remote Aboriginal communities, this will be by the local Aboriginal bodies/corporations with responsibility for the management of the land.
In addition, consent from Native Title Claim Groups, pastoral lease holders, ALT, Registrar of Aboriginal Sites, and the DPLH will also be required. It is important to gain consent from all parties involved to ensure that the burial has community
For burials in a closed cemetery, written consent from the relevant cemetery authority is required, stating that they support the proposed burial, and that the cemetery has the capacity for the burial. An exemption from the WA Governor may also be
Although the burial must be in an area that is visibly set apart for and distinguishable as a burial place, approval is not conditional on the grave itself being marked.
When applications for burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries are approved, the Minister for Local Government may require that the burial is recorded on the certificate of title for the relevant land by way of a notification lodged with Landgate.
If the Minister places this condition on a burial approval, a notification can be lodged pursuant to section 70A of the Transfer of Land Act 1893 (TLA).
Recording a burial on the title ensures that all interested parties to the land such as occupiers and prospective purchasers are aware of the existence of the burial. Additionally, family members of the deceased person have an official record
of the exact burial site.
Currently, burial records generally are maintained by the individual landowners or managing authorities of the unproclaimed cemetery. There is no legislative requirement under the Cemeteries Act to keep a central register of all burials which occur
outside of proclaimed cemeteries.
When applications are received by the Minister for Local Government, DLGSC will record each application in an internal record keeping system. This includes the application form and supporting documents as required by the DLGSC’s Burials Outside
a Proclaimed Cemetery Policy (Policy). The Minister’s decision is also stored on the database.
The DPLH also records some limited information regarding burial applications received by DLGSC which requires consent by the DPLH. Such applications generally relate to Crown land, ALT estate or Aboriginal Heritage Sites land. An online mapping tool
and Western Australian Planning Commission Layout Plans are also available on the DPLH’s website for those who are seeking further information regarding the land tenure of Aboriginal communities and cemeteries.
In some cases, there are limited records on historical burials, particularly those that have occurred without the knowledge of DLGSC. In the past, Aboriginal community members have approached DLGSC to express their concerns regarding the lack of records
and unmarked graves within their community cemetery. The lack of records can cause difficulty in obtaining details about proposed burial locations, which may result in delays on processing applications for burials. While applications are progressed
as quickly as possible, any delays often result in community frustration and concern regarding the timeframe and approval process.
Burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries are permitted in limited circumstances in most Australian jurisdictions, subject to approval from relevant authorities. The conditions of approval are often prescribed in legislation or provided for in a guideline
or policy document.
The VIC Act specifies that approval may be granted subject to conditions such as the zoning of the land, the existing arrangements for the care of the proposed burial site and the connection of the deceased to the land. Under the SA Act and Tasmania’s
Burial and Cremation Act 2019 (TAS Act), the approval is subject to consideration and approval by the relevant council or local government authority that administers and manages the area. While there is no specific Queensland legislation that
precludes burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries, a local government may have a local law that allows these types of burials. In Queensland, the Department of Environment and Resource Management has developed a policy in relation to burials
on land administered under the Land Act 1994 (QLD). While the policy states that burials outside recognised burial places are not generally supported, approval may be given in limited circumstances for burial on leasehold or land subject to an
occupation licence, where there is evidence of existing grave sites on that land5.
Recording of the details of these burials occurs in various ways but is generally separate from interment information held for cemeteries. For instance, in Victoria, an approval for a burial outside of a public cemetery must be lodged with the Victorian
Register of Titles. These burial approvals are then registered on the folio to which the land title relates, so that people are aware of the burial ground and its location6. The South
Australia Outback Communities Authority maintains a public register which was developed in consultation with the State Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages7. Under the TAS Act, the
relevant council records the burial site and request that the burial site be recorded on the land title.
Under the Northern Territory’s Burial and Cremation Bill 2019 (withdrawn in 2019), it was proposed that a register of burials outside of a cemetery be established and maintained by the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development.
The Bill was originally introduced with the intention to reflect the current practices and wishes of the NT community which supports traditional burials, allow Aboriginal organisations and landowners to manage their own cemeteries, formalising
kinship and cultural decision making and ensuring record keeping for future generations. However, due to cultural sensitivities and concerns on the proposed imposition of penalties, the Bill was withdrawn8.
Issue 4A.1: When DLGSC considers applications for burials in places other than proclaimed cemeteries, it may experience difficulties in identifying existing burials relevant to the application which may cause delays in the approval process.
There is a lack of a central register of names and locations of burials that can be used to search for burial sites and details of persons buried.
Option 2: Introduce legislative and/or policy reforms to consolidate information about burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries into one register to be held and maintained by a suitable State agency for example DLGSC or MCB.
Issue 4A.2: There is no requirement under the Cemeteries Act for burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries to be recorded on the corresponding certificate of title.
Currently, the Minister for Local Government may require an applicant to ensure that the approved burial is recorded on the relevant certificate of title as a condition of approval of the burial.
Option 2: Introduce a policy to require burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries to be recorded on the Certificate of Title, and update forms and guidelines as necessary.
Option 3: Introduce a legislative requirement for a burial outside of a proclaimed cemetery to be recorded on the land title. Legislation may refer to the notification provision in the TLA.
Submit feedback on topic 4
Issue 4B.1: Under the Cemeteries Act, the Minister for Local Government or his/her delegate may authorise the burial of a dead body in a place other than a cemetery where:
Option 2: A senior officer at DLGSC to be responsible for approving burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries, with a right of review/appeal to the Minister.
Option 3: The relevant local government to be responsible for approving burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries in their district.
The Cemeteries Act provides that a funeral director must be licensed by the cemetery authority responsible for the care, control and management of the cemetery at which they wish to conduct funerals. A funeral director’s licence is issued
for a period not exceeding one year. A cemetery authority may also issue a funeral director who already holds a licence issued by another cemetery authority with a single funeral permit to conduct the funeral of a person named in the permit.
A cemetery authority may also issue a single funeral permit to any person who is not a licensed funeral director. The MCB reports that while there are many enquiries for ‘DIY’ funerals from people who are not licensed funeral directors,
very few of these enquiries result in an application for a single funeral permit.
In granting a funeral director’s licence or a single funeral permit, a cemetery authority must be satisfied that an applicant is of good repute and is fit to hold a funeral director’s licence, in addition to having suitable facilities
and equipment for handling and storing dead bodies and conducting funerals. It is currently up to a cemetery authority to determine what evidence and supporting information an applicant is required to submit with their application and the
decision of a cemetery authority to determine whether an applicant meets the criteria to be granted a licence or permit. A cemetery authority has the power to inspect the facilities and equipment of an applicant or holder of a funeral director
licence. The Cemeteries Act also provides for the suspension and cancellation of licences, with review provisions.
Industry self-regulation occurs to some extent by those funeral directors who are members of AFDA and comply with a Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics and Prepaid Funerals Standard9. The
AFDA aims to enhance and promote professional funeral standards and advance the knowledge, quality and performance of funeral industry professionals. Membership is voluntary and re-accreditation is required every 3 years. Members are required
to complete a statutory declaration to confirm their compliance to the AFDA’s Codes and Standard. In 2021, about 74% of funerals in WA were conducted by funeral directors who are members of the AFDA, and most AFDA members in WA are located
in the Perth metropolitan area.
The MCB conducts approximately 12,000 funerals per year. According to MCB estimates, this number accounts for about 80% of the State’s (WA) funerals. In order to conduct a funeral at MCB cemeteries, a funeral director must hold a licence
to conduct a funeral or a single funeral permit issued by the MCB. Funeral directors issued with an annual licence must adhere to the provisions of the MCB Funeral Director Licence Code of Conduct (MCB Code of Conduct),10 which includes matters such as legislative obligations, professional conduct, care of the deceased, mortuary facilities, National Police Clearance and relevant insurances. Any breach of the MCB Code
of Conduct may result in the cancellation, suspension or non-renewal of the funeral director’s licence. The MCB has advised that it receives a low number of complaints from the public about funeral directors, with most complaints being
resolved directly with the funeral director. The MCB may also refer relevant matters to the Consumer Protection division of DMIRS.
Statistics provided by the DMIRS indicate that between 1 November 2016 and 31 October 2021, 246 enquiries and 50 complaints relating to funerals were received, with 31.7% of the enquiries and 52% of the complaints in relation to funeral directors.
The key issues raised were billing and costs, as well as due care and skill.
Funeral directors in WA who are providing prepaid funeral contracts must comply with the Fair Trading (Prepaid Funerals Code of Practice) Regulations 2020 (Prepaid Funerals Code of Practice), administered by DMIRS11.
Additionally, the Department of Health has published guidelines developed in conjunction with the funeral industry which set out the minimum requirements expected of the funeral industries regarding preparation of the deceased for burial or
There is no provision under the Cemeteries Act requiring monumental masons to be licensed, and there is no active masons’ association in WA. However, cemetery authorities may make local laws or by-laws which require monumental masons to
be licensed and which set out the circumstances in which a monumental mason’s licence may be cancelled. Cemetery authorities may also issue a permit to carry out monumental works on a particular grave.
Monumental masons who are licensed by the MCB are required to comply with a Code of Conduct which includes qualifications, adherence to legislation, policy and procedures, Australian Standards, professional conduct, National Police Clearance,
workwear and relevant insurances. The MCB assesses each application for compliance with standards, issues a work permit and assesses the work upon completion.
DMIRS has advised that 30% of the 50 complaints received between 1 November 2016 and 31 October 2021 related to headstone and monumental works conducted by monumental masons.
The Northern Territory has a similar licensing scheme to Western Australia. Under the Cemeteries Act 1952 (NT), funeral directors are required to apply for a licence with the relevant cemetery Board to operate in those cemeteries. Each cemetery
Board has their own processes in place to determine how applications are assessed.
In Victoria, funeral providers13 are required to be registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria and there is a publicly available list of funeral providers in Victoria. Obligations of a
funeral director under the legislation include:
Funeral directors also have obligations in relation to the provision of pre-paid funeral contracts and establishing a procedure for dealing with customer complaints. Funeral directors who fail to comply with such obligations are subject to penalties
under the legislation.
In Queensland, funeral directors can voluntarily adopt the Queensland Funeral Industry Code of Conduct to demonstrate that they are committed to best practice.14 The code is based on a
shared commitment by the members of the funeral industry to the guiding principle of ethical and responsible behaviour. While commitment to the Code is voluntary, certain practices must be complied with under the legislation.
In Tasmania, funeral businesses must apply to the Director of Local Government to be a regulated business and comply with relevant legislation.
In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Cemeteries and Crematoria Code of Practice 2020 was made under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2020 (ACT), which outlines the operating requirements that apply to all cemeteries and crematoria in
the ACT, whether public or private.
Funeral directors do not need a licence, specific training or qualifications to operate in New South Wales.
Licensing and permit arrangements of monumental masons in other jurisdictions vary.
In Victoria, the legislation provides that a cemetery trust must assess all applications to establish or alter a memorial or place of interment. It does not directly require the licensing of stonemasons.
In all other jurisdictions, licensing requirements for monumental masons are not prescribed in the relevant legislation. However, most cemetery authorities have by-laws or policies which require all work carried out on monuments to be conducted
by a monumental mason who holds a licence to work in that cemetery. Those cemeteries may also maintain a register or list of authorised monumental mason companies who are authorised to operate in those cemeteries.
Issue 5A.1: The Cemeteries Act requires all funeral directors to be licensed by way of:
Option 2: Replace the current licensing arrangement with a single licensing system that includes a centralised register which would allow funeral directors to work at all cemeteries in WA. Licences would be issued by a central
licensing authority. A condition of the licence would be compliance with a mandatory code of conduct.
Option 3: Replace the current licensing arrangement with a registration system whereby funeral directors register their business details with a central authority. Funeral directors could adopt a voluntary code of conduct.
Potential loss of revenue for cemetery authorities who receive revenue from granting licences.
Submit feedback on topic 5
Issue 5B.1: The Cemeteries Act does not require monumental masons to be licensed.
The requirement for a monumental mason to be licensed is currently provided for in cemetery Board by-laws and local government local laws.
A cemetery authority may also issue a permit authorising a person to carry out monumental work on a particular grave in that cemetery.
Option 2: Replace current licensing arrangements with a single licensing system for monumental masons which would allow monumental masons to work at all cemeteries in WA. Licences would be issued by a central licensing authority.
A condition of the licence would be compliance with a code of conduct.
Option 3: Replace the current licensing arrangements with a registration system whereby monumental masons register their business details with a central registration authority. Monumental masons can adopt a voluntary code
In WA, the first cremations were considered a means of hygienic disposal of diseased bodies. As a result, the Woodman Point Crematorium was established in the early 1900s, although some cremations were also performed on private property.
In the early 1920s, debate on public demand for cremation grew and land was set aside for a future crematorium at Karrakatta Cemetery. In 1929, the Cremation Act was passed, endorsing the cremation principle and regulating the cremation process.
At the time of the Act’s promulgation in October 1929, the issue of private crematoria was considered and opposed by the government of the day under Premier Philip Collier.
In 1935, the Cremation Act was amended to allow a privately incorporated association to establish a crematorium; however, this amendment was not utilised because, in 1936, a public crematorium was constructed at Karrakatta Cemetery.
On 10 September 2020, the Ministers for Health and Local Government told the Parliament that the government would consider removing the ability for an incorporated association to be licensed to use and operate a crematorium under section 4(1)(b)
of the Cremation Act. Community expectations of burial and cremation services have changed significantly over the years and it remains important the community has confidence in those entrusted to carry out these duties.
8 crematoria have since been established and are situated in cemeteries in WA, under public ownership, administered by a cemetery Board.
Although the Cremation Act in its current form requires the Chief Health Officer to be satisfied with certain public health and safety matters relating to the operation of crematoria, it does not provide for more general regulatory oversight or
powers that allow for the creation, monitoring and enforcement of industry standards; nor does it allow for codes of practice and consumer protection akin to other contemporary licensing regimes.
The Ministers indicated the government’s concerns going forward and signalled that the current provisions would be repealed, pending the outcome of the review.
There are currently no crematoria located north of Geraldton and deceased persons from the Gascoyne, Pilbara and Kimberley regions are generally transported to Geraldton, Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park or to the Northern Territory for cremation.
Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park conducts most of the cremations from the North-West within WA.
Throughout Australia, the cost of cremation varies depending on the jurisdiction and the age of the deceased person, with the cremation of an adult human body ranging from around $500 to about $1200. In WA, the cremation of an adult human body
ranges from $1150 to $120015. Some WA crematoriums also include chapel hire in their prices. For example, the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board (MCB) charges $1200 for an adult cremation,
including using any MCB cemetery chapel for 1 hour.
Cemetery authorities utilise funds from cremations and other revenue-generating services to meet the community's burial and memorial needs and cemeteries' maintenance, operation and administrative costs. For example, the MCB is currently a self-funded
statutory authority registered as a not-for-profit charitable organisation.
Issue 6.1: The State Government will continue to operate cremations under section 4(1) (a) of the Cremations Act 1929.
Option: Cremations will continue to be operated by publicly owned crematoria under public ownership through the State Government and administered by Cemetery Boards.
Submit feedback on topic 6
Although regulation-making powers exist under the Cemeteries Act, there are currently no regulations or prescribed forms for cemeteries.
Cemetery authorities have by-laws and local laws which provide for their own forms covering a range of matters, such as:
Through the provision of by-laws and local laws, each individual cemetery develops their own forms to meet their specific operational requirements for their regions. This results in inconsistencies. A sample of licence application forms currently
in use by cemetery authorities demonstrated that the following matters are not universally required:
Forms for the regulation of cremation are prescribed under the Cremation Regulations 1954 (Schedule 1):
Application form numbers and titles:
Cemetery authorities currently set their own cemetery fees as part of their wider annual schedule of fees and charges. Like the forms, this allows individual cemeteries to set their own prices to meet operational requirements for their regions,
however, this results in inconsistencies. In addition to basic fees for items such as the grant of right of burial and interment services, fees also differ between cemeteries for annual funeral director and monumental mason licences.
Similarly, cremation service fees are set by the cemetery authority that operates a crematorium within their facilities. While fees for a licence to use and conduct a crematorium, as well as fees for a permit to conduct the cremation are prescribed
under the Cremation Regulations 1954, the cost of the cremation service varies throughout each cemetery.
Examples of how some other jurisdictions administer their forms for the cemetery and cremation industry include:
Issue 7A.1: The Cemeteries Act does not provide any prescribed forms. Cemetery authorities currently prescribe their own forms in their by-laws or local laws.
Option 2: Introduce prescribed forms in legislation.
Submit feedback on topic 7
Issue 7B.1: There are prescribed forms set out in the Cremation Regulations.
Option 1: : Retain status quo and amend current forms if appropriate.
Issue 7C.1: Fees charged by cemetery authorities vary.
Option 2: Standardise certain fees and charges in legislation if considered appropriate.
Following consultation, the feedback will be considered and analysed, and will inform a DRIS which will include preferred options.16 The Minister for Local Government and the Minister
for Health will consider the DRIS and determine the next steps.
Legislation may need to be drafted and subsequently passed by the WA Parliament. This could be in the form of a new Act(s) and regulations, or amendments to the existing Acts and regulations. The form of the reforms will be determined once preferred
options have been identified. There may also be a need for consequential amendments to other legislation.
Transitional provisions may be required to allow the industry and the community time to adjust to changes and comply with any new requirements. Further information about the implementation process will be outlined in the DRIS once the preferred
options have been identified.
It is proposed that the effectiveness of any new or amended legislation will be reviewed 5 years after it has been implemented. Feedback and data will be sought from the public, industry stakeholders and interest groups via surveys and written
submissions to inform the effectiveness of the reforms.
Further details of an evaluation process will be outlined in the DRIS once the preferred options have been identified.
Do not submit enquiries with this form.