Better consumer protections for burials and cremations in NSW

Article published 28 March 2024

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IN 2018, an audit of the available cemetery space in Sydney indicated that there would be widespread unavailability of land for burials by 2036.

Part of the reason for this is that NSW was late to introduce renewable tenure in cemeteries, instead only offering perpetual burial rights until 2018. This means that all interments before 2018 are perpetual and the site cannot be reused.

By contrast, a renewable interment expires after a period of time. The minimum period is 25 years, and the maximum is 99 years. After the interment rights end, remains can either be moved to a dedicated site or reburied on the same site. Either way, the plot can be reused.

In the years since 2018, cemeteries across NSW have been filling up. Last year, Kemps Creek Memorial Park became the last Crown cemetery to cease offering the pre-purchase of plots.

Alongside supply issues, there have also been significant issues due to a lack of regulation. There are numerous horror stories, ranging from carelessness to exploitation.

At a difficult and vulnerable time, operators should have a responsibility to provide their customers with a high level of respect, professionalism and sensitivity. Especially when the cost of burials is taken into account. It’s currently estimated that a plot in a memorial lawn will set you back by up to $21,000.

Is there a solution?

In order to resolve these issues, Cemeteries & Crematoria NSW (CCNSW) have been given more regulatory powers to bring rogue traders into line. This will involve a statewide licensing scheme which will also impose levies on operators to ensure that the regulator is appropriately funded. Until now, the Industry Interment Levy was only payable by Crown cemeteries.

Other solutions to the scarcity of land for cemeteries include the promotion of sustainable burial practices and the identification of new land for cemeteries.

The new licensing scheme and renewed focus on the ongoing availability of burial sites are important. The NSW Government has a responsibility to ensure that consumers are protected from poor business practices at a vulnerable time, and also to ensure that the people of NSW can make choices based on their preferences and cultural practices.

CPSA is a member of Cemeteries and Cremetoria NSW’s Consumer and Community Consultative Group, a high-level committee of consumer and cultural representatives as well as industry members whom the NSW Government consults on issues relating to burials in NSW.

Do you have something you’d like us to know or an issue that you would like for us to follow up on? Get in touch with us via email: or call 1800 451 488.

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