While the Victorian Government has recently confirmed that burials in Victorian cemeteries are perpetual, unfortunately memorials for those who have been cremated are not always perpetual. For a number of years, families could not buy the right to remember a family member in perpetuity if that person was cremated.
At Fawkner Cemetery all cremations between 1984 and 2005 were for limited tenure. From 2009 some memorials have begun to expire. For a fee these can be converted, but in 2011 the fee was $752 for two memorials. Many memorials will not be converted as family may be unaware of the expiry or not have the money to convert perhaps multiple memorials. At Springvale Cemetery, limited tenure began in 1955 and all memorials from 1976 to 1998 were for limited tenure. These are two major cemeteries which are removing expired memorials but they are not the only memorial parks affected.
Thousands of memorials are affected like the one pictured which was at Springvale. The process is for notification to the family or whoever holds the right of interment. Also an orange sticker is placed on the memorial in some memorial parks. Once the notification period has expired, the memorial is removed. There are many people who did not have the opportunity to be remembered permanently because only temporary memorials were available.
While the Government authority responsible for cemeteries states “Victoria has a proud tradition of caring for its forebears in a system of public cemeteries,” we would like to see this encompass those who were cremated, especially where they did not have the option to purchase the right to a permanent memorial. Furthermore, we are concerned at the funding model for the upkeep of cemeteries. Cemeteries are funded from present day burial fees. Those cemeteries which are full, or nearly full, have no revenue for maintenance. Moreover the maintenance budget does not encompass the maintenance of memorials; this is a responsibility for whoever holds the right of interment. Many memorials are falling into disrepair. The solution for cemetery trusts is to remove unsafe memorials. We will lose much of our heritage if we do not come up with another solution for maintenance of cemeteries and existing memorials.
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