Department of Health

Key messages

  • New crematoria require approval from the department’s Secretary.
  • In 2004, the Marsden report found that new crematoria will not be required in the Melbourne metropolitan area until about 2050.
  • The report recommended that the department and cemetery trusts focus on maintaining and improving pre-existing crematoria, rather than considering establishing new facilities.

Under the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, a cemetery trust requires the prior approval in writing of the department's Secretary to establish a crematorium in a public cemetery for which it is responsible.

Crematorium industry review

A report by Marsden Jacob and Associates, in conjunction with Spatial Vision and Cumpston Serjeant Truslove, reviewing the viability of the Victorian cremation industry was published in November 2004.

A key objective was to provide a clear basis for the department's Secretary to evaluate proposals from cemetery trusts to establish new crematorium facilities.

The Victorian Cremation Industry Viability Report, also known as the 'Marsden report' is available for download.

Marsden report – key findings

The Marsden report noted that almost all crematoria were operating at around one-quarter to one-half capacity.

It concluded that ‘research undertaken for the project has not revealed any evidence in support of the need for additional crematoria in Victoria. The current mix of crematoria in Victoria adequately serves the needs of the market. The industry has sufficient capacity to continue to serve those needs for at least the next 40–50 years’.

Specific findings of the Marsden report were as follows:

  • Irrespective of the future demands for cremations, the current industry has the capacity to service demand until close to 2051.
  • Given that existing capacity in the metropolitan area is sufficient to meet forecast demand until at least 2040–2050, new cremation facilities will not be warranted in the Melbourne metropolitan area within the forecast period.
  • The establishment of new facilities in some non-metropolitan regions would have significant potential to increase cremation rates in those regions. However, any proposed new crematorium facilities must first meet the evaluation criteria of being viable in their own right.

In light of these findings, the Marsden report recommended that cemetery trusts focus on maintaining and improving existing crematoria, rather than considering establishing new facilities.

Establishing a crematorium

The evaluation of proposals to establish a crematorium will consider:

  • the findings of the Marsden report and other relevant policies and evidence
  • the need to ensure the cost-effective use of public funds in relation to cemeteries, which will generally include ensuring the efficient use of existing crematoria and associated infrastructure
  • meeting the needs of the community in relation to cremation services, including by providing an appropriate level of access to these facilities.

As noted in the Marsden report, unless market conditions change substantially, it appears that there are currently sufficient cremation facilities available in the Melbourne metropolitan area to meet the level of demand for such services in the foreseeable future.

Cemetery trusts seeking to establish additional crematoria in the Melbourne metropolitan area will need to take the findings in the Marsden report into account, and clearly demonstrate why those findings are not valid or not relevant.

Applications for approval to establish a crematorium should provide a convincing business case to support the proposal that clearly demonstrates:

  • the cemetery trust has considered the Marsden report in detail and has addressed all relevant findings and evidence
  • the proposed crematorium will be viable in its own right
  • there is a community need for the proposed crematorium (such as limited access to cremation services) that cannot be met by existing cremation facilities.
  • sufficient supporting evidence
  • consideration of any other relevant matters.

Reviewed 19 June 2024


Contact details

Hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

Cemeteries and Crematoria GPO Box 4057, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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