Questions are often asked about the cremation of human remains and what can be done with the ashes.
Following the cremation of a deceased person, the ashes are removed into a metal container and allowed to cool. Once cooled, the ashes are loaded into a homogeniser, some of which use a metal ball in a rotating drum to reduce the size of the larger particles. The ashes are subsequently packed into a labelled plastic container and/or the name plate is attached before being stored in a secure area.
Cremation occurs at such a hot temperature all micro-organisms are destroyed, and the remaining ashes are inert. After cremation there are no public health risks associated with handling ashes.
Under section 109 of the Public Health Regulation 2022 the cremation authority must either:
The cremated remains are to be given to the applicant (usually a family member). If the applicant does not take the ashes within a reasonable time, the cremation authority must give 14 days' notice of disposal to the applicant. If the ashes are not collected the cremation authority may dispose of the ashes.
The person who lodges an application for a cremation, often a relative or the executor of the estate, should arrange to collect the ashes.
Once the ashes have been collected, they can be:
Yes, it is important to get permission to scatter ashes from the owners of private land or the Trustee of parks and reserves, or from local council for parks, beaches and playing ﬁelds as scattering of ashes may contravene the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 in terms of air or water pollution. Councils and other Government Authorities may set a time and place when scattering of ashes can be undertaken and can impose other conditions.
Approval is not required from the Public Health Unit to scatter ashes.
It is important to carefully choose the place where you scatter the ashes of your loved ones. Access to the place may be restricted for some reason in the future; undeveloped land may be developed, or many other conditions may arise that could make it difﬁcult for you to visit the site to remember the deceased. Even if ashes are scattered in the backyard, what happens if you sell sometime in the future? Once scattered, the ashes cannot be recovered.
Consideration should be given to the weather conditions at the time of scattering the ashes. Avoid the wind/breeze blowing ashes onto people. Breathing in ashes may cause respiratory distress for some people and may aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.
You must get permission from the master of a vessel or boat before scattering the ashes overboard. Vessels can be chartered speciﬁcally to scatter ashes. Some precautions should be observed:
It is possible to take cremated ashes overseas provided the following actions are taken.
Approval is not required from the Public Health Unit to transport ashes overseas.