The following list of frequently asked questions attempts to provide you answers to many of the common questions families have with the passing of a loved one. Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to support and care for families at often the most difficult times in their lives. If you don't find an answer to a question you have, our team are here to help provide transparency and choice so that you can honour and celebrate the life and memory of your loved one. For any assistance, please call (03) 8558 8278.
The SMCT customer team can assist you in navigating the many options and decisions required when arranging a funeral. We provide support for the selecting of burial, cremation and crypt positions along with flexible funeral service and after-service function facilities. Both Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park offer modern function centres located within the cemetery to provide a seamless after-service function for attending guests.
While there are many reasons to pre-plan, the most notable is the easing of often tricky decisions relating to your own wishes on family members. Planning ahead will give you peace of mind, knowing that your requests will be honoured. And, for those who pre-purchase, you'll have protection against future price increases, while reducing the burden that often falls on family members during an emotional time.
Refunds for cemetery positions are calculated on the current price, e.g. if you purchase today and cancel in 10 years, the refund is based on today's pricing and not the amount initially paid, excluding any cancellation and maintenance fees that apply.
It is best to keep your documentation along with all your other important documents together and make family and executors aware of where they can locate these. Your family can also contact our customer care team who will assist with checking existing records.
A practical tool that helps you organise your affairs in one convenient place, MyLifebook helps family members and executors with delivering on your wishes and keeps all relevant documentation in the one location.
The number of guests determines the cost of a function and the most suitable menu options. In most cases, our team work with the family when making arrangements for the day of the funeral; however, we recommend completing MyLifebook as a way of expressing your wishes.
Yes, we have extended payment terms that are interest free. For more information on options available, please contact our customer care team.
No, when you pre-pay for a burial or cremation in full, you pay today's prices and there are no additional fees or charges.
Yes, you can authorise someone else to be buried in your grave. Alternatively, you can request a refund based on the current price, excluding any cancellation and maintenance fees that apply.
Call our customer care team (03) 8558 8278 for more information or to assist with adjustments.
Families who are looking for support throughout the entire process choose SMCT to assist with arrangements as we are a not-for-profit organisation which provides essential services that are transparent and considered - including the support and care for those who are journeying through grief. We are fostering long-term relationships with our client families and are continuing to create our cemeteries and memorial parks as places for the living.
For more information about the full range of services and community events we provide, please contact us.
Yes. We provide an innovative approach to personalised care and compassion to ensure your family wishes are the priority. Across the Organisation, we have established key employee values, including behaving with respect, dedication and empathy, which guide our teams in the careful handling and offering of relevant and considered services.
Across the nine cemeteries administered by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, there is a wide range of cremation memorial options, from the simple elegance of a wall niche location to rose positions, memorial seats, unique garden positions, tree positions and mausolea niches.
There is no single reason why people choose cremation. It is a very personal choice and can be a reflection of philosophical, religious or cultural beliefs or based on other preferences including conservation and land usage.
Only a single coffin/casket is ever placed inside a cremation chamber at one time.
Only one person is cremated at a time.
A cremator is made from heat-resistant bricks and fuelled by natural gas.
The coffin/casket is usually inserted head first.
The actual time taken depends on several factors, however, on average the cremation time for an adult is around 90 minutes, with the full cremation process taking approximately 4 hours to complete.
For those that choose to attend a cremation viewing, please allow 45 minutes from the specified arrival time. As witness cremations require specific documentation and operational considerations, your funeral director can guide you and stay with you to ensure the process is as seamless as possible. If you wish to extend your final goodbyes, our cafe and function rooms are available.
Yes, crematoriums require the deceased to be in a suitable receptacle to meet requirements of the Cemeteries and Crematorium Act. Your funeral director can assist you with the arrangement of a suitable coffin/casket to meet your needs and budget.
There are several considerations when selecting a coffin/casket intended for cremation, including the quality of construction material used. Some people opt for materials designed to be more environmentally friendly. Alternatively, those that plan to have an open viewing or the casket present at the funeral ceremony may choose decorative features and higher quality glossed woods.
Your funeral director can provide additional information on suitable coffin/casket options based on your preferences, needs and budget.
After cremation, the cremated remains are sealed and placed in an urn with an identifying label. The crematorium securely stores the cremated remains while working through the timings and collection with family members.
We understand that often families need some time to consider options, and our Walls of Reflection provide free for three months a peaceful place to reflect while permanent memorial arrangements are made.
No, cremation is an alternative option to burial or a mausoleum crypt. A funeral or memorial service provides an opportunity for friends and family to gather to farewell a loved one.
Many people choose to have a traditional service first, followed by the cremation. Others may have a memorial service at some point before or after the cremation.
Our cemeteries provide a range of modern and more traditional memorial options that the provided urn can be placed within. Cremation memorials are available at each of our cemetery locations and include wall niches, garden settings, mausolea niches and in-ground burial options. Permanent places to reflect and remember provide essential touchpoints for those journeying through grief.
Alternatively, more decorative urns can be purchased that traditionally have been placed in the family home or other places of significance. Contact our customer care team who can assist with options available along with presenting our available range of decorative urns.
Even if you choose to scatter the cremated remains or place them within a decorative urn at home, memorials can assist in the grieving process by providing a sacred place to visit and remember. In addition, they offer a permanent public record for future generations.
This depends on several factors, including the location of the cemetery, the specific location chosen and the type of memorial itself. Our customer care team can help you with exploring a cemetery and burial, cremation or crypt option that is most suited to your preferences and budget.
Previously cremation memorials had been sold with varying tenure however all cremation memorials managed by SMCT is now sold in perpetuity (for all time).
If you would like more information on a specific cremation memorial, please contact our team who can assist with your enquiry.
In most cases we are able to assist with an immediate burial requirement. Our customer care team can help guide you through the steps involved with arranging a burial, funeral or after-service function. We also provide hospitality and florist services for convenience and complete peace of mind.
Please call us as soon as possible on (03) 8558 8278. Please note our office hours.
In Victoria when someone is buried in a grave it is in perpetuity (for all time).
No. This would only occur when the Holder of Right (owner) of the grave has authorised other interments.
The location and type of grave will determine the number of burials, however generally a grave can accommodate up to three burials. Our customer care team can provide more details on the type of graves available and the number of burials for each location.
If you would like more information on family burial options, please contact our team who can assist with your enquiry.
It is common for family members to want to stay together. Yes, if you have the correct authority over the grave (permission from the Holder of the Right of Interment), you can place cremated remains in the grave of a loved one.
If you are in the process of pre-planning your funeral, this is often a good conversation to have with family members as it may influence your decision based on the options available.
For options available or for more information regarding the Holder of Right, please contact us.
We encourage families to consider this question at the time of pre-planning their funeral to avoid any disappointment. There are many options for families to secure positions together and we encourage conversations to enable wishes to be fulfilled.
If there are no pre-planning arrangements and there is space available, the correct authority over the grave (permission by the Holder of the Right of Interment), will need to be provided. To find out more, please speak with one of our team who can assist with any questions.
There are number of limited headstone packages available that include the cost of a headstone within the price of the grave. Contact our team to find out more about burial packages.
Yes, there are a range of burial options within the cemeteries administered by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. Please note, however that there are limited opportunities at our older locations, Melbourne General, St Kilda and Cheltenham Pioneer cemeteries.
All public cemetery land is Crown Land. This means that when you purchase a grave or memorial location you are not purchasing the land, but purchasing rights to inter. However, it is the family's (the Holder of Right) responsibility to maintain the headstone or plaque in perpetuity (for all time) while the cemetery is responsible for maintaining the grounds.
When a new grave is prepared, the soil that is replaced into the grave after a person has been interred is more aerated than the surrounding soil. Grave subsidence, or grave sinking, is a natural process that occurs when this freshly-excavated soil begins to slowly settle, causing the surface to sink over time.
It is not possible to safely compact the soil immediately after a burial has taken place, so grave sinking is unfortunately an unavoidable process. Certain weather conditions can also play a role.
Our burial team conducts routine maintenance that includes backfilling of graves to counteract the effects of grave sinking. If you ever have any concerns about the appearance of a grave, please contact us.
Yes, burials go ahead in all weather conditions.
Today's Services is an online tool offered from the SMCT website, along with digital screens located within some cemeteries. Please call us on (03) 8558 8278 for any information relating to the location or service times.
Burial within a mausoleum involves interment of the coffin into an above-ground crypt.
Yes, any interment in one of our Mausoleums requires embalming of the deceased. As part of your Funeral Directors responsibilities, they will provide an embalming certificate. The embalming helps with the sanitising, presentation, and preservation of the deceased, with many cultures giving the embalming process greater religious meaning.
For privacy reasons, some families prefer that a password be set up for their service.
If you are prompted to enter a password, you will not be able to watch the service without it. Please contact the Funeral Director or a family member of the service you wish to view and ask for a password if one has not been provided to you.
If the stream is not displaying, please ensure that you:
Are using a supported internet browser such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Edge;
Are connected to the internet; and,
Have entered a password if you were prompted to do so.
Network issues can also affect the quality of live streaming. To make sure our customers can still view services without potential disruption or impact to quality, we provide post-service recordings so families can still view the full service while having an uninterrupted experience.
Live streaming shows services in real time, as it happens, while recorded services show a video of the service directly after the event.
Yes, you can download a recording of the service once it has concluded, using the 'download' button beneath the streaming window. If your download does not automatically begin, please refresh your browser window and try again.
All recordings will be available to download for up to six weeks after the service date.
Live streaming is currently a free service, and as such, we cannot offer a refund for this service. We do assure our customers that although there is a possibility of internet or other (non-SMCT) issues impacting viewing in ‘real time’, families can still participate in viewing a service by viewing a recording after the conclusion of the event. These recordings will be made available for download by close of business on the day of the funeral or burial service.
Your family and friends can still participate in the same way, with the only difference being that if there are internet issues, they will need to view the service via a high-quality video recording provided after the conclusion of the service. They will be able to download or view this recording from the same livestream page by close of business on the day of the service.
Yes, if you are unable to attend the final resting place of a loved one, our florists can create an arrangement for you and deliver it to the grave or memorial site on your behalf. For more information, visit our online florist.
When a grave or memorial site is purchased, with it comes the right of interment – the right to decide who is buried there, and what kind of memorial they will have. The HRI is the person who holds this right. They are recorded by the cemetery trust at time of purchase, and are either the purchaser, or a person/people assigned by the purchaser.
SMCT can advise who the HRI is for a relative’s grave or memorial site if you are not sure.
No, a funeral director is responsible for the transportation to each location and to care for your loved one while funeral arrangements are made. The Funeral Director is required to comply with State law and provide paperwork to governing bodies, for example, organising the death certificate and liaising with the coroner's office.
The difference between a memorial service from a more traditional funeral service is that the coffin/casket is not present. However, if a memorial service is held after a cremation, the family may choose to have the ashes present.
A memorial service is often held when someone has passed overseas or interstate, providing local friends and family with the opportunity to honour and celebrate their life.
We believe that every person, regardless of their religion, culture or personal preference should be able to honour and celebrate their loved one as they choose. We work closely with many community groups to ensure that the services we offer continue to represent the multifaith and multicultural needs of all Victorians. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us on (03) 8558 8278.
Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park have the full range of cemetery services including:
Private viewing rooms
Fully licensed function centre with on-site catering
No, following health and safety regulations the bringing of food and/or beverages is not permitted within cafe and function areas.
Yes, our grounds are open to the community, and you are welcome to bring your dog to enjoy our outdoor areas. However, for the comfort of other visitors, please ensure that your dog is kept on a leash at all times and that you clean up after it where required.
To help us keep our beautiful cemetery clean, tidy and hazard free, we have developed floral and memento guidelines to support community interest. Please check these to ensure your gift will not be removed.