Questions are often asked about the cremation of human remains and what can be done with the ashes.
Pacemakers and other such devices must be removed from a body before cremation. The body must be contained in a coffin and must be cremated one body at a time. The name plate is removed from the coffin which is then loaded into a cremator pre-heated to 750ºC to 900ºC. Cremation takes about one to two hours. The ashes are removed into a metal container and allowed to cool. Once cooled the ashes are loaded into a homogeniser, which uses a metal ball in a rotating drum to reduce the size of the larger particles. The ashes are packed into a plastic container and the name plate attached before storage in a locked room.
Because the body is cremated at such a high temperature all micro-organisms are destroyed. Remaining ashes are inert. There is therefore, no public health risks associated with handling ashes.
Under Clause 85 of the Public Health Regulation 2012 the cremation authority must either:
If the cremated remains are to be given to the applicant, and the applicant does not take them within a reasonable time, the cremation authority must give 14 days’ notice to the applicant of its intention to dispose of the cremated remains before it disposes of them.
The person who lodges an application for a cremation, often a relative or the executor of the estate, arranges to pick up the ashes.
Once the applicant collects the ashes, they can be:
It is important to get permission from the owners of private land or the Trust 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 will set a time and place when these activities can be undertaken and can impose other conditions.
Disposal of ashes without consent from appropriate authorities may result in legal proceedings to be initiated against the person disposing the ashes.
It is important to carefully choose the place where you scatter the ashes of your loved ones. For example, when the ashes are scattered or placed in parks or a public place, access to the area 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 collected.
You must get permission from the master of the vessel or boat before scattering the ashes. Vessels can be chartered specifically to scatter ashes. Some precautions should be observed:
It is possible to take cremated ashes overseas providing the following is undertaken:
In you can call 1300 066 055 to talk to your local Public Health Unit.