To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly
We are extremely concerned at the announcement that religious groups will be removed from the management of cemeteries in this state.
For more than 150 years in NSW, Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust has been trusted not only by Catholics, but by the Islamic and Jewish communities and other people of faith to bury the dead, maintain their graves respectfully, and comfort grieving families. The Trust wants to continue to do this, at no cost to Government or taxpayer.
But the recent decision from Minister Pavey won’t allow them to.
It makes no sense that faith groups will now be excluded from this precious ministry; replaced by a new and costly Government bureaucracy that has no experience in caring for the deceased, and no understanding of religious customs around burials, including the importance of leaving graves undisturbed by future generations.
We are concerned especially that:
- the availability of new graves will be limited or priced beyond the reach of most people, forcing people towards cremation, contrary to their religious beliefs;
- the exclusion of charitable organisations from cemetery management will mean the price of burials increases;
- existing graves will be moved, or used for additional burials in an effort to conserve space; and
- some might even be willing to disturb old graves to clear the way for land development.
Burying the dead is a work of mercy and an important religious ritual, and the inclusion of faith groups in the management of burial grounds is an important matter of religious freedom.
We want our beloved dead to be able to rest in peace, with the certainty that their graves will continue to be cared for and maintained by those who see this as part of their mission, and not just another Government service.
Despite our differing beliefs, people of faith in NSW are united in this plea.
We therefore petition you, Premier and Property Minister, to reverse the decision to exclude religious groups from cemetery management.