Department of Health

Class A cemetery trust fee setting and financial reporting

Key messages

  • Cemetery trusts must make a formal application to the department for approval to make or vary fees and charges for products and services.
  • All cemetery trust fees of $50 or more are increased annually in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Cemetery trusts cannot charge a fee that has not been approved by the department and published in the Victorian Government Gazette.
  • Class A cemetery trusts must meet financial reporting requirements and pay a levy on their gross earnings each year.
  • Cemetery trusts are best placed to determine the cemetery products and services required by the communities they serve. 

    Trusts are also best placed to determine the appropriate level to set fees to meet their obligations under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003.

    The department’s role is to ensure that applications from cemetery trusts to increase their fees (outside the annual (CPI) increase) are consistent with government policy and the principles that underpin cost-recovery. These are outlined in the Department of Treasury and Finance Pricing for value guide.

    Under section 42A of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, the Secretary has established the Guidelines for developing fees and charges for Class A cemetery trusts. For more information see the Download section on this page.

    The guidelines outline the public consultation process that Class A cemetery trusts are required to undertake when seeking to adjust fees above CPI, or when introducing new products and services.

    Annual CPI increase

    Under section 43 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, all trust fees of $50 or more are increased annually in accordance with CPI. 
    Trusts seeking an exemption from the CPI process need to provide the department with an acceptable reason why the increase should not be applied.

    The CPI increase is based on the All Groups Consumer Price Index number (for Melbourne) for the current December quarter. 
    Fees increased by CPI are effective from 1 July each year.

    The department provides advice to trusts each year about the upcoming CPI increase in their fees.

    Common chart of accounts

    The Common chart of accounts has been developed to help Class A cemetery trusts determine the direct and indirect costs associated with:

    • providing their major services
    • maintaining the public cemeteries under their management
    • ascertaining their short, medium and long-term cash flow needs.

    Setting fees and charges

    In fixing fees, a cemetery trust must include the costs of operating and managing public cemeteries, as well as provisions for the maintenance of each of its public cemeteries in perpetuity.

    Revenue raised by cemetery trusts through the charging of approved fees and charges is expected to:

    • encompass current cemetery operational costs
    • cover repairs or replacement costs associated with cemetery facilities and equipment
    • ensure adequate financial reserves for future operations and maintenance.

    When setting fees and charges, trusts should also ensure there is a direct relationship between the fees charged for cemetery products and services, and the actual cost of providing these products and services.

    This will ensure that, if required, trusts are able to provide a transparent account of their fees to members of the public looking to purchase cemetery products and services.

    Pricing for value guide

    The Department of Treasury and Finance developed the Pricing for value guide (the guide) to clarify the government's policy principles underpinning cost-recovery arrangements.

    The guide provides a rigorous framework for use by government entities when considering, developing and reviewing user charges and regulatory fees. 

    It ensures that cost recovery arrangements in Victoria are transparent, efficient, effective and consistent with legislative requirements and government policy. 

    The fee-setting processes outlined in the Guidelines for developing fees and charges for Class A cemetery trusts are consistent with the principles outlined in the guide.

    Approval of fees and charges

    Cemetery trusts cannot charge any fee that has not been approved by the department and published in the Victoria Government Gazette.

    Under section 40 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a cemetery trust must make a formal application to the department for consent to make or vary its scale of fees.

    An application should be accompanied by costing sheets generated from the common chart of accounts for each proposed fee to justify the extent of the increases sought. 

    In addition to the costing information, Class A cemetery trusts must also provide evidence of the consultation undertaken, as per the Guidelines for developing fees and charges for Class A cemetery trusts.

    Approval timeframe

    The time taken from lodgement with the department until approval is approximately 3-10 weeks, provided the department does not need additional information from the trust regarding its application.

    Publishing fees

    Under section 41 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a notice of the approval of any amended or new cemetery fees must be published in the Victoria Government Gazette before the fees become effective.

    Cemetery trusts cannot charge any requested update to its fees until a notice is published in the gazette.

    Current fees for each Victorian cemetery trust can be accessed using the Cemetery search.

    Applying the approved scale of fees

    Under section 44 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a cemetery trust is required to charge its approved fees. Fees are only to be waived or reduced on grounds of extreme hardship or other special circumstances.

    Exemption of fees and charges from approval

    Under section 40A of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, the department's Secretary may exempt specified fees and charges, or scales of fees and charges, from being approved under section 40 if, in the Secretary's opinion, there is no public benefit in those fees and charges being approved.

    The annual application of CPI will not apply to any fees that are subject to an exemption under section 40A of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act.

  • Each Class A cemetery trust is responsible for the management and proper accounting of its income and expenditure, assets and liabilities.

    As determined by the Department of Treasury and Finance, Class A cemetery trusts are required to:

    • prepare annual financial statements in accordance with the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance and the Financial Management Act 1994
    • have those statements audited by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office
    • submit an annual report, incorporating those statements, to the Parliament of Victoria by 30 September each year.

    Annual reporting guidelines for Class A cemetery trusts will be provided to each trust by the Department of Treasury and Finance.

  • Amendments to the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act made in 2009 introduced the annual cemetery levy payable by Class A cemetery trusts. 

    Section 18Q sets the levy at three per cent, or a rate determined by the Minister for Health up to a maximum of five per cent, of each Class A cemetery trust’s gross earnings from the previous financial year. See the Cemetery levy guidelines for more information.

    The purpose of the levy is to help meet the costs of administering the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, and make improvements to cemetery trust:

    • governance
    • administration 
    • provision of services to the community. 

    The levy due is calculated based on the annual report and audited financial statements submitted by each Class A cemetery trust. 

    All levy monies are paid into the Consolidated Fund which is the Victorian Government’s primary financial account.

    Funds are allocated to three key areas of cemetery levy expenditure:

    • Cemetery grants program – providing grants to cemetery trusts to help them:
      • purchase equipment 
      • improve infrastructure 
      • undertake cemetery maintenance and training
      • address workplace health and safety issues.
    • Administration of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act – providing resources for the department to:
      • operate the Cemetery Sector Governance Support Unit
      • undertake a range of statutory functions
      • support the sector in the day-to-day management of cemeteries
      • encourage and monitor compliance with the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act.
    • Project funding – to assist the Cemetery Sector Governance Support Unit to initiate a range of projects that aim to deliver ongoing and long-term benefits to the sector including:
      • supporting sector capacity building
      • assisting with policy development
      • delivering training, audits and reviews.

Reviewed 20 September 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm

Cemetery Sector Governance Support GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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