Information for the public
Page content: Purchasing a grave and the right of interment | Perpetual burial in Victoria | Cemeteries & cemetery trusts | Cremation or interment conducted by a family or other persons without the assistance of a funeral director | The department
There is a common misconception that a grave, that is, the land used for interment of bodily remains, can be purchased. This is not so as all public cemeteries in Victoria are situated on Crown land. What can be purchased is the right to determine who can be interred (buried) in that grave, that is, the right of interment.
In Victoria, when bodily remains are interred (buried), the right of interment allows the remains to be interred in perpetuity (forever). Cremated remains interred in a public cemetery may be interred for either 25 years or in perpetuity, depending on the type of right of interment that is purchased. For this reason cemetery trusts have perpetual maintenance obligations for each of their cemeteries.
Public cemeteries in Victoria are governed by cemetery trusts. A cemetery trust may be responsible for one or more public cemeteries. A cemetery trust is a public entity, which has a board established under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (the Act). These statutory boards serve the community by providing cemetery services and maintaining public cemeteries. They are accountable for the public money received from their sales and services dedicated to cemetery purposes.
In Victoria, cemetery trusts are divided into Class A and Class B cemetery trusts. Class A cemetery trusts have greater financial responsibilities along with corresponding reporting and accountability requirements and govern the larger public cemeteries. The trust members of Class A cemetery trusts are paid for their services, while Class B trust members are volunteers.
Here is a list of the current Class A cemetery trusts:
- Ballarat Cemeteries Trust
- Bendigo Cemeteries Trust
- Geelong Cemeteries Trust
- Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
- Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
All other cemetery trusts in Victoria are Class B cemetery trusts.
Cremation or interment conducted by a family or other persons without the assistance of a funeral director
There is no law in Victoria that requires a person to use the services of a funeral director. A family (or other persons) can perform some or all of the arrangements necessary prior to the body of the deceased being delivered to the cemetery for cremation or interment providing all the necessary legal requirements have been met.
Members of the community who wish to arrange a funeral without the assistance of a funeral director are encouraged to contact the cemetery trust of their choice to ascertain the legal and procedural requirements.
Under regulations 13 and 16 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2005 a body must be transported into a cemetery in a coffin or receptacle. In Victoria at present, there is some variation in what some crematoria may, or may not, accept. Therefore, if a person is organising a cremation or burial for their family member, relative or friend, it is important that all details relating to the construction and materials of coffins/receptacles be discussed and confirmed with the cemetery before use.
The role of the Department of Health in the Victorian cemeteries sector is to ensure the administration of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (the Act). As independent entities, trusts are the decision makers in relation to the provision of their services, expenditure of funds and employment of staff, provided these decisions are lawful.
The powers of the department relating to cemetery trusts, under the Act, exist to ensure cemetery trusts meet their obligations under the Act and the relevant legislative framework. Where trusts fail to meet these obligations the government may intervene if required.
The Department of Health has no power relating to funeral directors or stonemasons.