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Frequently Asked Questions

22 May 2019

For your convenience, we have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the loss of a loved one, funeral and memorial services, burial and cremation, memorials, cemeteries, processes and planning ahead.


Can I arrange a funeral directly through Southern Metropolitan Cemetries Trust (SMCT)?

You can arrange a cremation, burial or crypt location and a memorial directly with the cemetery. Services and after-service functions can be held at Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park. Your funeral directors arrange the service itself.

Will SMCT collect the body?

No, this is the responsibility of the funeral director who will also arrange the transportation, casket and relevant paperwork.

What is the difference between a memorial service and a funeral service?

The difference between a memorial service and a more traditional funeral service is that the casket is not present at a memorial service. 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 if someone has died overseas or interstate, allowing local friends and family to celebrate the life of their loved one.

Planning Ahead

What are the advantages of planning ahead?

There are many advantages to pre-paying your burial or cremation, including purchasing at today’s prices and peace of knowing that your wishes will be honoured. Pre-paying also eases the burden on your family during an emotional time. See Planning Ahead for more information.

How much money will I save by buying today?

When you pre-pay for a burial or cremation in full, you pay today’s prices and there are no additional fees or charges. See Benefits of Planning Ahead for more information.

How will my family know I have pre-paid my grave, crypt or cremation?

It is best to keep your documentation along with your other important documents and make family and/or executors aware of where they are. Your family can also contact us so that we can check our records.

Why can’t I pre-pay my function?

The cost of a function is determined by the menu selected and the number of guests. It is best that this is done at the time of the funeral.

Do you have payment terms?

Yes, we have extended payment terms that are interest free. For more information please contact us.

If I pay upfront are there any ongoing costs?

No. Please see Benefits of Planning Ahead.

Who will make sure I’m buried where I choose?

When you purchase a location, it is assigned to you and recorded. At the time of use, numerous checks are undertaken before a person is interred.

What if my situation changes? I’m single now but if I get married, can I purchase the position next to me at a later stage?

Yes, if the position is available. If not, you can cancel your original purchase and purchase a memorial position that is suitable for two or more. We are on hand to advise you of your options. For more information please Contact us.

If I change my mind can someone else use my grave?

Yes, you can authorise someone else to be buried in your grave or you can sell it back to the cemetery.

Why wouldn’t I go to the funeral director first?

Your funeral director will assist in the short term, to arrange the funeral service itself.

However, as a not-for-profit, community based organisation, we can assist you with making key long term decisions regarding the location and type of memorial. For more information please Contact us.

Will my family be treated with respect when dealing with the cemetery?

Yes, they will be treated with the utmost respect throughout the entire process. We are a client-focused organisation and your family’s needs will come first.


I want to be cremated – what are my options?

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.

For the full range of options available please see Cremation Memorial Options within our Graves, Crypts and Cremation section at each location:

Why do people choose cremation?

Everyone chooses cremation for his or her own reason. It may be a choice around land usage and conservation. For many, it is a choice that reflects philosophical, religious or cultural beliefs.

How many caskets are placed in a cremator?

In accordance with Department of Health Regulations, only one casket is ever placed inside a cremation chamber at one time.

Is more than one person cremated at one time?

Only one person is cremated at a time. The only exception is a mother and baby or twin children. Approval can be sought from the Department of Health for a mother and baby or twin children to be in the same casket.

What is a cremator made from?

A cremator is made from heat-resistant bricks and fuelled by natural gas.

How is the casket placed in the cremator?

The casket is usually inserted head first.

How long does a cremation take?

The time taken depends on many factors, including body mass, bone density and the material the casket is made from. The average time for an adult is around 90 minutes and the full cremation process takes approximately 4 hours from insertion to final cooling.

Do I have to buy a casket when choosing cremation?

Yes, crematoriums require the body to be in a suitable sealed container.

Are special cremation containers and caskets available?

You may wish to use a traditional casket, or a cremation casket specially designed for cremation. A cremation casket is a casket constructed from environmentally friendly materials.

It appears very similar to a traditional burial casket and may be used for open viewing, a funeral ceremony or a gathering.

What happens to the cremated remains?

After cremation, the cremated remains are placed in a sealed container with an identifying label. The crematorium holds all cremated remains containers until instructions are received from the family.

Does cremation replace a funeral?

Cremation does not replace a funeral. Under normal circumstances a funeral or memorial service or gathering will precede or follow a cremation.

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.

What do most people do with the urn?

Our cemeteries offer many options for a final resting place for the urn, including wall niches, garden settings, mausolea niches and in-ground burial. Alternatively, you may want to have the urn at home, or share remains with family and friends with smaller urns. Please contact us to discuss our range of urns.

Is it important to have a memorial?

Even if you are scattering cremated remains or placing them in an urn, we still recommend that you choose a memorial. It is a thoughtful gesture that provides family and friends with a special place to reflect. It also provides a tangible public record for future generations.

Is cremation less expensive than burial?

This depends on a number of factors, including the location of cemetery, the specific location chosen and the type of memorial itself. For the full range of both burial and cremation memorial options, please contact us

What is tenure on cremation memorials?

Cremation memorials have been sold with varying tenure periods over the years.

See the following links for information on each location's tenure rules.

All cremation memorials at Brighton General Cemetery, Bunurong Memorial Park, Cheltenham Memorial Park, Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery and Melbourne General Cemetery are purchased in perpetuity – for all time.


I need an immediate burial (within the next 24 hours). Can you do this? What do I need to do?

Yes. Please call us as soon as possible on (03) 8558 8278. Please note our opening hours.

When I purchase a grave, is it mine forever?

In Victoria a grave is purchased in perpetuity (for all time).

Do graves eventually have someone else buried in them?

No. This would only occur when the Holder of Right (owner) of the grave has authorised other interments.

How many people can be buried in a grave?

Up to three burials and a number of cremated remains can be placed within a grave.

Can I put my cremated remains in a relative’s grave?

Yes, as long as there is room and you have the correct authority over the grave (are the Holder of the Right of Interment or have their permission). If the Holder of Right has passed away, please contact us.

Can I be buried with my parents?

Yes, as long as the owner of the grave has given their permission to the cemetery and there is room in the grave. At the time of purchase, the cemetery needs to be made aware of how many interments there will be.

Will the cemetery erect the monument for my grave?

In the majority of areas the cemetery does not erect monuments. This is performed by a monumental mason who is registered to work at locations administered by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust. For a list of registered monumental masons, please contact us.

Is there still room at your cemetery for burial?

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.

Please contact us or see our other cemetery websites for more information :

Why are there so many graves in disrepair?

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 on Crown Land.

However, it is the family’s responsibility to maintain the headstone or plaque in perpetuity (for all time) while the cemetery is responsible for maintaining the grounds.

Do burials go ahead in bad weather?

Yes, burials go ahead in all weather conditions.

How do I find out where a service is being held?

See Today’s Services or contact us on (03) 8558 8278.

How do I know that the grave will be there when I need it?

All of the cemeteries in the Trust’s care are situated on Crown Land and accountable to the Department of Health.


I am interested in crypt interment – what are my options?

Brighton General Cemetery, Bunurong Memorial Park, Cheltenham Memorial Park, Melbourne General Cemetery and Springvale Botanical Cemetery all provide a range of mausolea options for interment within single and dual crypts. For the full range of options available please see:

What does interment within a crypt involve?

Burial within a mausoleum involves interment of the coffin into an above ground crypt.

When I purchase a crypt, is it mine forever?

In Victoria a crypt is purchased in perpetuity (for all time).

Does the body have to be embalmed?

There are areas of our mausolea that require full embalming of the deceased. For more information please contact us.

Can I place cremated remains into a crypt?

Yes, cremated remains can be placed in a crypt. If there has been a recent interment into the crypt, this cannot occur until 2 years after the date of original interment. One set of cremated remains is allowed per casket space.

Religion and Culture

Are there particular religious areas at certain cemeteries?

Yes, most cemeteries administered by the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust have dedicated areas for specific religions, denominations and cultural groups. For more information please contact us.

Will you understand my culture?

Yes, we are a community focused organisation, which embraces all cultures and religions. We continuously engage with our diverse communities to gain a thorough understanding of all cultures and to ensure that we meet all needs and requirements. For more information please see Culture and Religion.

Chapels and facilities

What facilities do you have?

Springvale Botanical Cemetery and Bunurong Memorial Park have the full range of cemetery services including chapels, function rooms with full catering, on-site café and florist and crematoria.

Please see Chapels and Facilities for details.

Can we bring our own food to functions?

No, in accordance with health and safety regulations, BYO food and beverages is not permitted.

Artificial flowers

Are artificial flowers allowed?

To help us keep our beautiful cemetery clean, tidy and hazard free, we have developed floral and memento guidelines. Please check these to ensure your gift will not be removed.

Floral & Memento Guidelines

Deceased Search

How can I find a grave or memorial?

Please see our Deceased Search or contact us for assistance.