If there is a time in your life when you want things to be affordable, uncomplicated, run smoothly and with a wholesome dose of honesty, it’s when making provision for a loved one’s remains.
However, it seems the cemetery sector in NSW is falling far short of the mark and raises questions nationally.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s draft report says consumers are facing high prices, confusing information and minimal options at a time when they are particularly vulnerable.
The Tribunal recommends cemeteries be required to offer a standard lawn grave burial plot and calls for operators to make provision for caring for burial plots and cemeteries in perpetuity.
“Everyone has a right to a dignified burial. While many people choose cremation these days, it is important that those who want a burial are able to access an affordable plot that meets their needs,” Tribunal member, Deborah Cope said.
Cemeteries that serve particular cultural or faith groups should also be required to offer a standard burial plot that respects the requirements of that culture or faith.
“Cemetery operators need to ensure that the beliefs of religious and cultural groups are respected so that no one is disadvantaged, and adequate and proper provision is made for all,” Ms Cope said.
The Draft Report’s call that cemeteries make financial provisions for maintaining cemeteries into perpetuity is a response to consumer concerns that under the current arrangements there is no certainty their loved ones’ graves will be cared for into the future.
“Our recommendations will help ensure that cemeteries are financially able to do this, even after all burial plots have been sold,” Ms Cope said.
The report found people planning for a burial often encounter a lack of information about prices and confusing terminology about the products and services on offer. It recommends all cemetery operators be required to publish itemised prices using consistent terminology and that the NSW Government set up a website to allow people to easily compare prices across cemeteries.
The tribunal will hold a virtual public hearing on the issue on 17 September 2020.
The closing date for submissions is 2 October 2020.
A full copy of the Draft Report and further details are available at www.ipart.nsw.gov.au