A Summary Of Australian Funeral Laws

In Australia there is actually no law that says you must use a funeral director or minister. In fact, a friend or family member can handle the arrangements if they so choose. However, it is significantly easier to hire a director to help pull together the arrangements and ensure that all the laws are followed accordingly. The following are some basic laws and procedures that must be followed when someone dies in Australia and is to be buried in native soil.

The death certificate is an absolute requirement by law.

Once a person becomes deceased their death must be made declared by a coroner or doctor who also makes note of the cause. Typically if someone dies in their sleep at home, the family doctor is notified and will fill out the initial paperwork. If the circumstances surrounding the death involve an accident or are unusual, then the body is remanded to a coroner for determination. When a body has to be examined by a coroner there can be a delay in the time it is released to the family. Either after a doctor or coroner’s examination, the body is turned over to either the funeral director or whomever has been designated to oversee the burial. Whichever route is taken, a death certificate must be requested and filed with the government offices of the territory in which the death occurred. It is processed and handled by the same department that keeps records for births and marriages. Centrelink must also be notified as well, this is the agency that regulates social security benefits. Typically the funeral director will handle all the paperwork and notices required, otherwise the offices do make the paperwork available as downloadable forms that can be filled out and sent or taken in. More information are available at http://www.lawhandbook.org.au/fact_sheets/ch27.php

Arrangements for transportation to burial or cremation.

The amount of paperwork and requirements regarding proper etiquette in handling, containing, and transporting the deceased are another point in which a funeral director can help save a lot of hassle and time. Once the body is ready for burial or cremation, it is then time for it to be transported, first to a temporary location for services and then to its final destination. By law the casket or coffin containing the body must be well constructed to keep the body and any potential emissions from its decay from escaping. If the deceased is to be cremated, the container must also be combustible. It is possible to make a coffin at home, so long as it satisfies all the basic legal requirements.

Any vehicle transporting a body must not allow it to be viewable while in transit. Curtained windows or panel-sided vehicles tend to be the best means of satisfying this requirement. It is illegal to transport the deceased in any other manner, including such instances in which it is visible in the bed of a truck.

Burial, cremation, or at sea.

The law does not require any sort of ceremony or service from a religious figure, and at its bare minimal, the cremation or burial can be performed the same or next day once the deceased has been cleared by medical personal and released to the family. When it comes to being buried in a graveyard there is a measure of paperwork required to procure a plot and gain permission for the burial. Each state has varying additional regulations, but the basic legal requirement is that a burial must take place in an authorized cemetery and that cremation must be approved by the examining medical party. Read more here http://www.health.vic.gov.au/cemeteries/public/private.htm

For those who opted for cremation, the ashes can then be buried in a cemetery, retained at home by a loved one or friend, or can be dispersed in an appropriate location. There are times when people wish for their ashes to be scattered in a particular location. It is the person who is dispersing the deceased’s ashes responsibility to ensure that they are not breaking any local laws or ordinances set forth by the Clean Air Act.

In the case that the deceased wished to be buried at sea arrangements can be made and a permit must be obtained in accordance with the Sea Dumping Act. In order for a permit to be granted a strong connection between the deceased and the sea must be established. This can be be done either after or before the death, if the deceased wished to make arrangements ahead of time. If the deceased was cremated, no permit is required to scatter their ashes to the sea.

The laws regarding internment of the deceased can be quite strict.

While there are some minor differences between the states regarding local requirements, most laws regarding properly interning the deceased are very strict. Failure to properly file paperwork or follow all the regulations, can result in heavy fines. One of the easiest ways to avoid these potential consequences is to either have plans ahead of time, or obtain the services of a qualified funeral director.