Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The future of funerals in the spotlight

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Sunshine Coast Council, Media Release, 11 March 2021

The future of funerals is in the spotlight following community feedback showing increased interest in more eco-friendly burial options.

Sunshine Coast Council is investigating natural burial sites within existing cemeteries.

Woombye Cemetary
Woombye Cemetery © 2019 Eyes Wide Open Images

Natural burial is an environmentally sensitive option that an increasing number of people are choosing for their resting place or for that of a lost loved one.

The general principle of a natural burial is to be in a bushland area, or an area being regenerated through native planting, and for no toxic materials to be used for the coffin or other materials being interred. Often a communal memorial is placed adjacent to the natural burial area to provide an opportunity for loved ones to memorialise an individual laid to rest in the area.

During community consultation for Sunshine Coast Council’s Cemetery Plan in 2019, many people expressed their desire for greater choice and access to practices that better aligned with their values and beliefs, including natural burial.

Service Excellence Portfolio Councillor Winston Johnston said many factors were being considered to determine a suitable location to offer natural burial.

“Planning includes identifying a suitable area within the current cemetery network which aligns with the natural burial ethos and includes space for a communal memorial,” Cr Johnston said.

“We are also liaising with local funeral directors, as they will play an integral role in ensuring the natural burial offering meets the community’s needs.

“Plans are progressing well, and we anticipate that natural burial will be available by the end of the year.”

Cr Johnston said work was also being done to ensure adequate space was available for interments as well as preserving the region’s heritage values.

“Recent works have been completed at Kulangoor, Mooloolah, Caloundra and Beerwah cemeteries to provide additional space for interments,” Cr Johnston said.

“New seating has been installed at Kulangoor, Diddillibah and Gheerulla cemeteries and we are currently restoring the shelter at Woombye cemetery.”

Council is also working to better understand, and plan for, the needs of our growing population and emerging faiths in the region and what end-of-life desires need to be considered.

The guiding principles of the Sunshine Coast Cemetery Plan 2019-2028 are Respectful, Sustainable, Responsive and Inclusive. The plan recognises cultures on the Sunshine Coast and the future needs of a growing population. It provides strategic direction to guide the effective management of council’s cemetery network and ensure ongoing service excellence to the community.

Sunshine Coast Council manages 18 cemeteries across the region.

It is already possible for sustainable, non-toxic coffins to be used in Sunshine Coast cemeteries.

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