The ABC (AU) reports Religious communities are calling on the New South Wales Government to urgently find and allocate more burial plots with the lack of space reaching a critical situation.
Vic Alhadeff from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said a parcel of land at Rookwood Cemetery in western Sydney being consecrated today would extend the burial space for Jewish people for another four years.
But the new space was only made available in exchange for ceding a section of a Jewish lot to the Muslim community, because their shortage was even more dire.
"We worked closely with the Lebanese Muslim Association, we worked closely with the Rookwood General Cemeteries Trust and as a result, the needs of both communities were met, albeit for a short period," he said.
"Other cemeteries are running out of Jewish space and with the addition of the land which is being consecrated today at Rookwood it will give the Jewish community one decade more of burial space," he said.
A government report prepared in November 2017 found:
- Over 1.5 million persons are projected to require burial or cremation in metropolitan Sydney between 2015 and 2056, with over 355,000 grave plots projected to be required from 2015 to 2056
- By 2056, around 11,800 new grave plots would be consumed in metropolitan Sydney per annum, requiring around four hectares of cemetery burial land
- If there is no change to existing cremation and grave occupancy rates, cemetery capacity in metropolitan Sydney would be exhausted by 2051, if not before
- Unavailability of grave plots in "at-need" circumstances would particularly disadvantage: families with insufficient resources to pre-purchase, and communities with cultural and religious commitments to burial rather than cremation
Chief Executive Officer of Rookwood Cemetery, George Simpson, said space was now at a premium.
"Some communities have less than 20 years left. Today's events will allow us to continue to provide burial spaces for both Jewish and Muslim communities for around the next 8 to 10 years.