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.
Review of the Cemeteries Act 1986 and Cremation Act 1929
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 1: Retain status quo
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.
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.