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Review of the Cemeteries Act 1986 and Cremation Act 1929
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The Ministers indicated the government’s concerns going forward and signalled that the current provisions would be repealed, pending the outcome of the review.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 $120015. In WA, the cremation of an adult human body ranges from $1150 to $1200.
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 1: Cremations will continue to be operated by publicly owned crematoria under public ownership through the State Government and administered by Cemetery Boards.