The cremation of human remains is quite common but not many people know much about the whole process, including what can be done with the ashes. Before a body is cremated any devices such as pacemakers are removed first. The body must be placed in a coffin with its name plate removed and only one person is cremated at a time so there is no concern of any contaminated ashes.
Cremation takes around one to two hours to complete, after which the ashes are removed and placed aside to enable them to cool. Once the ashes have had a chance to cool they’re put through a homogeniser which reduces the size of any large particles. Finally, the ashes are poured into a plastic container and stored in a locker room with its nameplate attached.
All remains must be properly handled following any cremation and under Clause 85 of the Public Health Monitor Regulation 2012, the cremation authority must do one of three things:
- give the ashes to the applicant
- dispose of the ashes in a burial ground or other area designated for this sole purpose
- otherwise dispose or retain of the ashes.
The applicant is allowed a reasonable amount of time in which to collect the ashes from the cremation authority, after which the authority must give the applicant 14 days notice if they intend to dispose of the remains if not collected.
Once the ashes have been collected the applicant can then:
- Bury them in a cemetery, small plot, or some other area of their choice
- Preserve them in an urn and be kept in a place of their choice
- Scatter them on a beach, private land, at sea, or any other special place.
Do you need permission to scatter someone’s ashes?
Yes. You will need to seek permission of the owner of the land that you’re wanting to scatter the aches, where it’s a private individual, local council, or the Trust of Parks and Reserves. It is a criminal offence to dispose of ashes without consent from the relevant authorities.
Think carefully about where you want to scatter the ashes
Once they’ve been scattered, they can’t be collected, so choose this wisely. Parks are nice but will they always allow you access? Even if you opt for your backyard, what happens when you want to sell the house?
Scattering ashes at sea
Before scattering any ashes at sea you must first get permission from the master of the boat. Some boats are specifically designed to scatter ashes, however, please beware:
- Take note of the wind direction and scatter as close to the water as possible
- Don’t through the whole container as it is likely to float. Simply empty the contents into the water.
- Loosen the lid or drill holes in it before climbing on board the boat to make it easier to remove before scattering.
Travelling overseas with cremated ashes
In most cases it is possible to take cremated remains overseas with you, provided the following steps have been taken:
- the consulate at the country that the ashes are being taken to has been contacted
- the ashes are being carried in a sealed urn/container in hand luggage along with the certified death certificate. There must also be a document from the crematorium stating when and where the body was cremated.