Opinion: Cemeteries Act tramples on memories

The Cemeteries Act will result in people's precious memories being trampled.
The Cemeteries Act will result in people's precious memories being trampled.

SINCE 1899, WA families have bought grave sites at Karrakatta for their loved ones and erected memorials, expecting they would rest in peace and that their graves would be tended by the cemetery.

None expected those memorials would be bulldozed. Most families probably assumed they owned the sites.

The 1986 Cemeteries Act converted all rights to a right of burial for 25 years and allows arbitrary clearance of memorials, apparently still owned by the families.

New burials are inserted between the old, leaving no marker on the existing grave.

People must trample other people’s graves to visit their own family. A few memorials are placed in gardens or on walls (no record of location).

Most are destroyed – labelled damaged, although often no damage appears in Cemeteries Board photographs. The Act calls this “redevelopment”, the board “renewal”.

At the moment remains are not touched, but the board has total discretion to exhume, cremate and dispose of remains.

There is no need for this – three new areas were designated for cemeteries years ago.

These memorials are the history of this State. They are our pioneers. Many were war veterans. All have family – all are loved.

There are thousands of heart-wrenching stories. It devastates families to find nothing there when they visit.

These are your ancestors – and your future.

The board can clear your memorials. Stop this destruction – tell the State Government to open the cemeteries planned decades ago and leave your family to rest in peace.