The Catholic Leader (AU) reports a senior death-care industry professional saying Queensland’s laws are “failing dismally” to protect bereaved families, while putting the health of industry workers at risk.

“There are minimum standards that associations like ours, and funeral directors would like to have in place,” Brisbane’s Nudgee Cemetery manager David Molloy, who is a board member of the Australasian Cemeteries and Crematoria Association, said.  Mr Molloy said transparency and tight regulations were needed because, for most families, the grief and vulnerability that followed a death was often accompanied by impaired ability to make informed decisions.
He said legislation was needed to better regulate family entitlements to graves; exhumations; the storing and disposal of ashes; and, for safety’s sake, the most critical issue, the disposal of bodies in crematoria.

Unregulated practices have allowed the cremation of people who have radiation in their bodies because of past medical treatment – a major health risk to crematoria staff.

In Queensland, unlike most states, there are no regulations that require crematoriums to be informed about a patient’s past exposure to radiotherapy.
In contrast, in South Australia, a specific question to be answered by the GP in consultation with the family states: “Does the body contain a cardiac pacemaker, cardiovascular defibrillator, drug infusion pump or similar device, or radioactive injectable solutions”.

“Unfortunately, I had to decline a cremation because a gentleman had been treated with radioactive pellets – for prostate cancer,“ Mr Molloy, who follows the strict ACCA guidelines regarding contents of coffins, said.

Mr Molloy said case studies explaining the gaps in Queensland industry had been prepared for government, and the ACCA was awaiting a further meeting with state officials.

Nudgee Cemetery is run and owned by Brisbane archdiocse.

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