Department of Health

Class B cemetery trust fee setting

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).
  • The department has developed a fee justification model to assist Class B cemetery trusts to add new fees or adjust existing fees outside of the CPI process.
  • Cemetery trusts cannot charge a fee that has not been approved by the department and published in the Victorian Government Gazette.

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.

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.

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 goods and services.

The Department of Treasury and Finance developed the Pricing for value guide (the guide) to clarify the Victorian 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.
  • 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 B cemetery trusts are consistent with the principles outlined in the guide.

Guidelines for developing fees and charges

The Guidelines for developing fees and charges for Class B cemetery trusts (the guidelines) have been developed to assist Class B trusts when they apply for fee increases outside the CPI process.

The guidelines and associated documents have been developed in consultation with the Cemeteries and Crematoria Association of Victoria. 

They have been developed to:

  • provide Class B trusts with standard fee descriptors and tools to assist in identification of key cost drivers when developing fees 
  • ensure fees set by trusts are clear and transparent
  • assist trusts to meet their operational and maintenance obligations under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act
  • provide consistency across the cemetery sector in terms of how cemetery products and services are described and how cost drivers are identified.

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.

The application must be signed by three trust members and lodged with the department. 

The trust must provide a justification for any proposed new or increased fees, and a breakdown of the total proposed fee amounts. Completing the department’s Fee justification model (Version 3.1) is the preferred method for trusts to demonstrate the cost drivers of their proposed fees. 

For more information see the Fee justification model documents in the Downloads section below.

Approval timeframe

The time taken from lodgement with the department until approval is approximately 3–6 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.

Land development costings

Cemetery trusts can use the Cemetery land development costing model (the costing model) to estimate the base cost for the sale of a right of interment.

The costing model is designed to capture the costs associated with the development of cemetery land for the sale of a right of interment by identifying overheads and allocating the cost of shared infrastructure including:

  • toilet blocks
  • roads
  • pathways
  • communal gardens.

The completed costing model can be used to support future fee applications associated with a proposed development area. It can also be used to assist trusts to evaluate their current pricing of existing developments as part of a review to ensure products are priced appropriately.

A Cemetery land development costing model user guide has been developed to provide a step-by-step guide to using the costing model. See the Downloads section for more information.

Reviewed 06 December 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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