In an Australian first, the Territory Government has passed legislation that expressly respects traditional Aboriginal burial practices.
The Burial and Cremation Act 2022 enables traditional owners to notify authorities about burials and exhumations, rather than seeking approval.
The Act also allows for those who make decisions for land to maintain autonomy in how burials are conducted, without needing to adopt a Westernised cemetery management approach.
Different practices for the burial, exhumation, and disposal of human remains are allowed, and take into account economic, social, cultural, and regional interests.
The Burial and Cremation Act 2022 replaces 70-year-old legislation that pre-dated Aboriginal Land Rights in the NT.
There are only 15 gazetted cemeteries across the Territory, although none of these are on Aboriginal land. This new Act changes that.
Another key point of the legislation is the regulation of record keeping for the protection and maintenance of burial sites, which is important for families and future generations.