Ownership and Maintenance of Graves
Confusion often exists as to who is responsible for the maintenance of a grave, vault or monument.
The Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, which was enacted on 1 July 2005, is quite clear in that regard. Maintenance of a grave/monument/memorial, etc. is the responsibility of the person who holds the right of burial or interment in a grave or memorial site.
Once a right of burial has been passed down it can soon become difficult to locate the responsible person. It is therefore wise to ensure that a clear audit trail can be followed by storing legal and important papers wisely.
It is not the responsibility of a Cemetery Trust to maintain a grave, monument or memorial. It would therefore be of great benefit and indeed important if families who have relatives buried at a cemetery to regularly check the condition of the sites.
Unfortunately many graves suffer deterioration to the extent that they are an unrecognisable memorial to a family’s history and heritage. That is a sad result.
Relevant information from the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, Division 3 – Maintenance of Memorials, Places of Interment and Buildings for Ceremonies, Section 104 - states:
“104. Duty to maintain memorial or place of interment or buildings for ceremonies
(1) The holder of a right of interment in respect of a place of interment within the meaning of section 3 in a public cemetery must maintain or cause to be maintained any memorial at that place of interment in a safe and proper condition.
(2) The holder of a right of interment in respect of a place of interment within the meaning of section 97 in a public cemetery must maintain or cause to be maintained any memorial at that place of interment in a safe and proper condition.
(3) A person responsible for the establishment of alteration of a building for ceremonies approved under Division 2 in a public cemetery must maintain or cause to be maintained that building for ceremonies in a safe and proper condition.”
If you would like clarification of this or any other information relating to interments in any of the cemeteries administered by this Trust, please contact our administration office on 03 5446 1566 during office hours.
Information on the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 may be obtained through the Department of Human Services which is the governing body for cemeteries in Victoria. A link to their website can be found on the ‘Links’ page.