Shoalhaven City Council recently adopted a review of its Cemeteries, Crematorium and Memorial Gardens Policy . The original Policy  was implemented in 1994 and had previously been reviewed only once.

The changes adopted by Council intend to make the Policy consistent with modern OH&S demands, current common & statute law, regulation and particularly the recently adopted “"Funerary and Monument / Masonry Services Policy."

It also seeks to make clear the Council position on the preservation and upkeep of monuments in the local general cemeteries.

The review strives to address the issue of unsafe structures in cemeteries by aligning the Policy with Council’s Occupational Health & Safety & Rehabilitation Manual which prescribes procedures to identify, assess and control hazards.

It should also remove confusion about Council’s responsibility for structures in cemeteries, particularly headstones and monuments over graves. Council’s responsibility should be no more than to preserve monuments and headstones, using the definition for preservation given in the Burra Charter, ie, “Preservation means maintaining the fabric of a place in its existing state and retarding deterioration.”

The Burra Charter was adopted by Australia ICOMOS (the Australian National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites) on 19 August 1979 at Burra, South Australia. Revisions were adopted on 23 February 1981, 23 April 1988 and 26 November 1999. The Burra Charter provides guidance for the conservation and management of places of cultural significance (cultural heritage places), and is based on the knowledge and experience of Australia ICOMOS members.

Before its current review, the Cemeteries, Crematorium and Memorial Gardens Policy stipulated certain matters relating to the conduct of funeral directors and monument masons working in Council’s cemeteries which can now be removed. Instead reference is made to Council’s "Funerary and Monument/Masonry Services Policy", which covers these matters in greater detail.

Rights of Burial & Licenses of Burial

The revision tries to provide greater clarity regarding Rights of Burial which are often misunderstood by consumers, for example, many continue to believe that the Right of Burial gives ownership of cemetery land, which it does not.

A number of clauses dealing with hours of operation and other operational issues have been removed from the Policy as they are procedural matters.

For more information contact Shoalhaven Bereavement Services.