Cemeteries Board wants end to funeral 'horror stories'

The Catholic Cemeteries Board in Sydney wants specific state legislation covering the funeral industry to prevent the occurrence of "horror stories" such as mixing up of bodies and bodies being left for months in morgues.

The Catholic Weekly reports that current legislation in NSW is "very fragmented, reactive and inadequate", says the board's general manager, Harold O'Keefe.

"There is a whole host of legislation we have to refer to, at least 20 different acts with relevant bits and pieces in all of them," he said. "What we need is a single funeral industry act or cemeteries act, such as in Victoria.

"I think that would solve a lot of the problems."

The board is preparing a submission to a State parliamentary inquiry into the funeral industry.

The inquiry has heard allegations of bodies not being buried or lying in funeral homes for months, of necessary paperwork not being done and of incidences of surprise hidden costs.

Recommendations have been made for a code of practice and guidelines for funeral directors, strict licensing requirements for cemeteries and crematoria and clear advertisement of prices.

The "horror stories" are true," says Mr O'Keefe.

"One of the problems is that consumers are very poorly informed and they're reasonably powerless at a time when they are most vulnerable" he said.

"So it's a difficult situation when you have unscrupulous people who take advantage of that."

Stop funeral 'horror stories', says board (Catholic Weekly 26/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Cemeteries Board

Proposal for funeral industry shake-up (Council of Social Service of NSW 14/6/05)
NSW funeral industry investigated (ABC Radio The World Today 24/3/05)

28 Jun 2005