Burials and exhumations

The Cemeteries Act 1986 (the Act) generally requires all deceased persons to be buried in proclaimed cemeteries administered by responsible trustees, with appropriate records being kept in perpetuity.

The trustees' role ensures the proper and lawful burial of dead bodies and that deceased persons are treated with respect across the generations, with gravesites accessible to all who may wish to visit them in the future.

The Act does allow burial on land that is not a gazetted cemetery, subject to the prior approval of the Minister for Local Government, but considered in the most exceptional circumstances.

Review of the Cemeteries Act 1986 and Cremation Act 1929

We’re reviewing WA’s Cemeteries Act 1986 and Cremation Act 1929.

We want to reduce unnecessary red tape and make legislation clearer and more consistent for the funeral industry and general public.

Have your say on issues such as cemetery redevelopment, alternative methods for the disposal of human remains, burials outside of proclaimed cemeteries, cremation services and the licensing of funeral directors and monumental masons.

Consultation closes at 5pm Friday 16 February 2024.

Statutory requirements

The Minister may authorise, under Section 12 of the Act, burial on land that is not a declared public cemetery. Approval may only be granted if the land is reserved for the purpose of burials under the Land Administration Act 1997 or where the land is an area that is visibly set apart and distinguishable as a burial place.

Applications

The department's role is to process applications seeking authorisation and assess considerations for exceptional circumstances. The burials outside a proclaimed cemetery application form contains contact details and notes to guide applicants.

Policy on burials outside proclaimed cemeteries

Exhumations

Exhumations in Western Australia (WA) are governed by the Act. Under section 58 of the Act, the Minister may in writing order the exhumation of a body and the re-burial or disposal of ashes after cremation of the body in accordance with the Act. The Minister may also order how and by whom the costs of the exhumation, re-burial and disposal shall be met.

If you wish to apply for an exhumation under section 58 of the Act, please provide the following information and accompanying documents to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC):

  1. The identity of the deceased and details of their current grave site (e.g. name of cemetery, grave number, row and section).
  2. A copy of a death certificate/coroners form of the deceased.
  3. Written authorisation/consent from the next of kin, detailing the following:
    • stating relationship with the deceased (as next of kin);
    • reasons for the exhumation;
    • where the deceased will be exhumed from;
    • what will happen to the remains after the exhumation; and
    • stating agreement among family members.
  4. Confirmation from the cemetery board/local government advising that there is sufficient space for the deceased to be buried at the receiving cemetery (if applicable).
  5. The proposed funeral director/funeral company who will be conducting the exhumation, and cremation/re-burial (if applicable).
  6. Confirmation of who will bear the costs of the services.
  7. Where possible, a proposed date of the exhumation and re-burial (if applicable).

Information and accompanying documents can be submitted to DLGSC by email at legislation@dlgsc.wa.gov.au or post
PO Box 8349, Perth Business Centre WA 6849.

If you need help with an application, please telephone us on 61 8 6552 1530 or email legislation@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

Upon receipt of an application, we will review all required information and ensure all documentation is attached before it is submitted to the Minister for approval.

You should allow at least 7 working days from when DLGSC receives all information, for the application to be processed and a decision to be made. Depending on the circumstances, further time may be required.

Once the Minister's decision has been made, you will receive a letter of advice by email.

Page reviewed 08 January 2024