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Frequently asked questions

Interment

What does interment mean?

Interment is the placement of human remains in the earth or in a mausoleum, crypt, vault, columbarium, niche wall or other structure designed for the placement of such remains. 'Interment' applies equally to cremated and uncremated remains.

What is the interment industry?

Interment industry is a phrase used to describe the providers of interment services, such as burials and cremations. Three primary sectors provide cemetery and crematorium services in NSW. These are the Crown Sector, the Local Government Sector and the Private Sector. A fourth sector, the community sector, oversees a number of small, closed cemeteries and undertakes a very small number of interments each year.

Interment rights

What is an interment right?

An interment right is a contract between a cemetery operator and a right holder permitting the right holder to undertake burials in a particular grave in a cemetery. The holder of the interment right can determine who can be buried in the grave.

When you purchase an interment right, the cemetery operator should provide a certificate in writing which identifies the location of the grave and other relevant details.

An interment right is an 'interest' in land but the right holder does not become the owner of the land. Interment rights apply to burials in the earth and to burials in mausoleums, crypts and vaults. They also apply to burials of cremated remains in the earth or in a columbarium or niche wall.

What is a perpetual interment right?

A perpetual interment right allows the right holder to bury human remains in a particular grave in a cemetery and for those remains to be left undisturbed forever (in perpetuity).

What is an optional renewable interment right?

A renewable interment right allows the right holder to bury human remains in a particular grave in a cemetery and for those remains to be left undisturbed for an initial period of time.

A renewable interment right can be renewed for additional periods. If this occurs, any human remains in the grave must remain undisturbed until the additional period expires.

If a renewable interment right is not renewed, the grave may be re-used.

Renewable interment rights are a new burial option. They are not mandatory and perpetual interment rights will continue to be available.

Are optional renewable interment rights available in NSW?

Optional renewable interment rights currently operate in two Sydney cemeteries, Waverley Cemetery and the Sydney Natural Burial Park at Kemps Creek. Optional renewable interment rights are currently unregulated.

Interment rights and legislation

Does the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013 make optional renewable interment rights mandatory in NSW?

No. The Act provides a regulatory framework to ensure that, where offered, renewable interment rights are offered consistently and with adequate consumer safeguards.

Some important things to note about optional renewable interment rights:

  • Renewable interment rights are a choice; they are optional. No community or individual will be required to take up renewable interment rights.
  • Renewable interment rights will not operate retrospectively – all existing graves and rights continue exactly as they were prior to the new legislation.
  • Perpetual interment rights will continue to be available and there will be no impact on existing perpetual graves or rights.
  • New rules and conditions will ensure that the holders of renewable interment rights are protected at each stage in the lifecycle of their right.
  • Graves of local heritage significance and those listed by the Office of Australian War Graves cannot be re-used under any circumstances

Does the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2013 have any impact on the perpetual interment right that I hold?

No. The Act has no impact on existing perpetual interment rights. These rights continue to be perpetual rights. This is the case regardless of whether there has been a burial in the related grave.

When will the new regulations for interment rights commence?

Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW is working with industry to establish a regulatory framework that will provide adequate protection for interment right applicants and holders. This includes developing guidelines and regulations to ensure industry and the community understand the operation of renewable interment rights. Only once the regulatory framework is in place will the relevant provisions of the Act be commenced.

Graves and burials

Do I have to be buried at a cemetery? Can I be buried on private land?

The overwhelming majority of burials in NSW occur in cemeteries. Burial on private land may be permitted by the relevant local council, subject the requirements of the Public Health Regulation 2012. If you wish to arrange a burial on private land you should contact the applicable council.

How can I find where my ancestors are buried?

Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW does not keep historical records of burials in NSW – these records are maintained by cemetery operators. The most direct way of finding historical graves is to contact the cemetery where you think your ancestor may have been buried. The more information you have about the deceased, the easier it will be for cemetery staff to locate your family grave. There are also many online search sites and genealogical societies that may assist you to locate your ancestors.

I have an issue with the maintenance of a relative's grave.  Who do I speak to?

In the first instance you should contact the cemetery operator, to express your concerns and to explore options to resolve the matter. If this is unsuccessful and the cemetery operator is a member of an association, then the association may have a complaint resolution procedure which can also assist.

Where there is evidence of a systemic issue, Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW may develop a code of practice or regulation setting out the requirements for adequate maintenance of graves and cemeteries.

I have an issue with an interment right which I have purchased.  Who do I speak to?

In the first instance you should contact the cemetery operator, preferably in writing, to resolve the matter. If the cemetery operator is a member of an association, then the association may have a complaint resolution procedure which can also assist. If this is unsuccessful, consumer complaints can also be referred to NSW Fair Trading.

Where there is evidence of a systemic issue, Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW may develop a code of practice or regulation clarifying a particular aspect of the new interment rights system.

What costs can I expect to incur for a burial?

There are three primary charges associated with undertaking a burial:

  • Interment right fee – this is the charge associated with purchasing the right to undertake burials in a particular grave. This can be purchased pre-need or at the time of death and may be a perpetual or renewable interment right.This charge takes into account the operator's costs of preparing the land to accommodate graves. It also includes the cost of maintaining the grave and surrounding areas. In the case of perpetual interment rights, the operator must factor in the cost of maintaining the grave indefinitely.
  • Burial fee – this is the charge associated with undertaking a burial. It is generally charged to the customer at the time of burial. It includes the operator's costs of digging the grave, back-filling the grave once the burial has occurred, and re-landscaping.
  • Memorialisation fee – this is the charge associated with purchasing a headstone, plaque or other monument/memorial and having it inscribed and erected at the grave. This may be prepaid or paid at the time of burial.

Misunderstandings about which fees have been paid and which are still outstanding can cause families distress at the time of burial. If you are unsure about which fees you have paid, you can seek clarification from your cemetery operator. It is recommended that new customers clarify which fees are being paid at the time of purchase.

Note that the above costs do not include funeral costs, such as funeral directors' fees and the cost of funeral goods and services including coffins or caskets. NSW Fair Trading has more information about funeral costs.

 
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