THE Metropolitan Cemeteries Board has replied to allegations families are inadequately informed about a decades-old program to find more space for the dead at Karrakatta Cemetery.
“The big message to everyone is they need to update their contact details with us if they have relatives in the cemetery,” a board spokesman said.
The board replied to recent claims by South Metropolitan MLC Aaron Stonehouse that families were unaware they had the graves for 25 years, with a possible 25-year extension, and there was potential a grave could be moved without people knowing, if outdated contacts were used.
Mr Stonehouse, a Liberal Democrat MP, said he knew of couples outliving each other and not being able to be buried together, and an infant not buried with its family, because of the restrictions.
He said graves such as those of WWI warrant officer Alexander Rankin and Private CC Cuthbery needed protecting from the renewal, which should be halted until relatives of all those with graves had been contacted.
The renewal could see a third of the graves moved in the next 20 years by making space for new sites, and moving or removing headstones, but not disturbing remains.
Proposals include new graves in current paths, graves between current plots, and well-maintained headstones moved to memorial gardens.
The board’s spokesman said if a grave was to be moved at least 12 months was taken to contact relatives, with the process sometimes taking up to three years, but some graves were up to 150 years old and making contact could be difficult.
The spokesman said markers indicating a potential move where put on graves at important events such as Mother’s Day, the Monument Assessment and Advisory Committee was consulted on the need for some of the moves, and shifted graves were recorded.
All wartime graves were heritage protected.