Do you have an Ancestor laid to R.I.P. in South Australia?

If you have an Ancestor(s) laid to R.I.P. in a South Australia Cemetery, their Gravesite may have been re-used/re-developed with their “bodily remains” placed deeper and a stranger buried on top, without your knowledge.  Furthermore, unless the Memorial has been claimed by the lease holder/ grantee it will have been disposed of and a new memorial, for the latest occupant, taking its place.

This is not a post to distress but one to inform. In the words of Sir Francis Bacon

Knowledge is Power

Cemeteries. Francis_Bacon. wikipedia

From what I’ve been able to ascertain, South Australia has always leased Burial Sites for a finite period.  Initially it was 99 years and around the 1950’s this was reduced to 50 years and later to 25 years.  If the lease/ grant expires, and is not renewed, the Gravesite becomes the property of the Cemetery as does the Memorial which can be disposed of in such manner as it thinks fit”.

In 2012 the South Australian Parliament, after more than 10 years of work to bring all the legislation re: South Australian Cemeteries together in a coherent form, created the South Australian “Burial and Cremation Bill 2012”.  

After public consultation and debate in the House of Representatives this Bill (with Amendments) moved to the Legislative Council and was passed there on 13 May 2013. What happened next was that, on 14 June 2013, this Bill was gazetted and “assented” and then became South Australia’s  “Burial and Cremation Act 2013”

Now, here is where things become a bit confusing/ tricky. From all the info I’ve been able to find, the problem is that, whilst we have this new “Burial and Cremation Act 2013”  it has not actually “commenced” yet… i.e. This new Act has not passed into Law, despite the three months that have passed since it was “assented”. When asking “Why not?” I was informed that “the Regulations” have not yet been written and it seems that “the Regulations” is the nitty gritty/ nuts and bolts of how this new South Australian “Burial and Cremation Act 2013” will actually be enforced. The regulations have not yet been written and so our new South Australian Act describing how Cemeteries Authorities need to manage

Phew!!!  Hope you readers haven’t nodded off  yet ‘cos I can tell you that there sure are a few matchsticks right next to me, should I need help to “keep my eyes peeled”.

Enquiring into this matter of the Regulations still to be written so this new “Act” will “commence” and become “Law”,  I was assured, by the South Australian Attorney General’s office, that there will be a “consultation process” regarding the “regulations” and that I certainly am on the list to be informed when this will happen.  It’s been over 2 months now and last time I enquired re: progress was informed that it “takes time” and won’t happen soon.

So, fact of the matter is that, the old law/ legislation is still in play. These old laws/ legislation are all we have to work with to keep our Ancestors safe in their Graves and our Family History intact until “the Regulations” get writ.  From what I’ve been able to work out the Law/ Legislation available, at this time, is the South Australian “Local Government Cemetery Regulations 2010 and here is the LINK.

This is what the South Australian “Local Government Cemetery Regulations 2010” have to say re: the responsibility of  “a cemetery authority” when writing the lease/ grant conditions.

This is how the “Local Government Cemetery Regulations 2010” read in regard to the actual lease signed by the “grantee” of the burial site of your Ancestor(s).


10—Grant of interment rights
(1) Before granting an interment right to a person, a cemetery authority must give the person a statement written in plain English that—

(a) includes the matters required by subregulation (2) to be included in the interment right; and

(b) sets out the rights and responsibilities of the cemetery authority and relativesof a deceased person whose remains may be interred pursuant to the interment right in relation to any memorial (including any unclaimed memorial) to the deceased person; and

(c) specifies the cost of the interment right and any options for periodic payment.

Maximum penalty: $200.

(2) An interment right granted by the cemetery authority must— 
(a) identify the person to whom the interment right is granted; and

(b) identify the person or persons whose remains may be interred in pursuance of
the interment right or provide that a specified person or class of person may, at some future time, nominate the person or persons whose remains may be interred in pursuance of the interment right; and

(c) identify the site at which remains may be interred in pursuance of the interment right or provide for determination, in a manner set out in the interment right, of the site at which the remains may be interred in pursuance of the interment right; and

(d) specify the period for which the interment right is granted; and

(e) set out the rights (if any) to renewal of the interment right; and

(f) specify whether the interment right may be cancelled or transferred and set out any conditions governing its cancellation or transfer.


I’ve not been able to find, within this “Local Government Cemetery Regulations 2010” any requirements regarding the re-use/ renewal of Gravesites but am more than happy to be corrected.

Bottom line is that, until the “Regulations” for the new “Act” are written, and the new Law “commences” then we’re in some sort of limbo land.

Best advice I can give, right now, is that if you have family laid to R.I.P. in a South Australian cemetery that you do all you can to ensure that the Leaseholder has renewed the lease/grant. If this is impossible and you know the Cemetery involved be sure to contact them, find what is happening and if the grave is still intact please leave your contact details because it seems that one of the biggest problems is that people move house, die themselves and the Cemetery Authority is unable to contact family. It also seems that it’s mostly inner suburban cemeteries who re-use/ recycle gravesites but always worth checking out, I reckon.

That’s all from me, for now. Hope this is helpful information and am most happy to be told if I’ve got any of the facts, as I understand them to be, incorrect. Cheers.

Copyright © 2013. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel


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Filed under RE-USING GRAVES, The Legislation, Uncategorized

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