The Natural Burial Movement in Australia:
Its Foundation and its Future...
The new Act reflects faithfully Bob’s understanding of the potential for natural burial not only to address a valuable social need, but also to contribute to environmental restoration. He routinely spoke of his desire to see scarred landscape and old quarries re-purposed as natural burial grounds. In service of this vision, the new Act defined natural burial grounds as entities that could exist in their own right, separate to traditional cemeteries. This was the first time in Australia (and possibly the world) for natural burial grounds to have been recognised in this way.
The old legislation had permitted areas within existing cemeteries to be set aside for natural burial, but the new Act went much further to support the establishment of stand-alone natural burial grounds. In this way, Bob Such’s seminal work laid a foundation for the development of an ecology-linked, natural burial movement in Australia, unconstrained by traditional cemetery models.
The intention of the Australian Natural Burial Project is to build upon Bob Such's foundation, to promote a clearly defined, well informed and passionate natural burial movement across Australia.
Every State and Territory in Australia has its own legislation governing burial sites. Fortunately, while not all State laws have the absolute clarity of the South Australian Act, it is feasible to establish 'cemeteries' or 'private land burial sites' across the country, and to reserve these exclusively for natural burial.
It is important that humankind reaffirm our connection to nature. Accordingly, we embrace the opportunity to assist in the establishment of special and sacred places that link the end of a life with the renewal of the natural environment.
The contributors to the Project have developed the following Position Statement to guide the way forward. It is our hope that you too will share in this vision.
Our Vision is:
… of a time when every funeral conducted in Australia is genuinely sustainable, and intentionally benefits the wider community and the biosphere.
Our Mission is:
… to ensure that every person in Australia understands the natural burial process and rationale, and has access to affordable ecologically and socially sustaining funeral services.
Our Aims are:
… to foster the development of a coherent, ecology-linked natural burial movement in Australia
… to establish a public presence in order to clearly define and promote the ethos of genuine natural burial processes that benefit people, local ecosystems, the wider community and the biosphere.
… to make available information and guidelines to assist those seeking to establish and operate genuine ecology-linked, natural burial grounds in Australia.
… to develop governance structures, covenant agreements and trustee services to enable individuals or community groups to meet the legal requirements for operating natural burial grounds in their States or Territories.
The late Hon Dr Bob Such was a long standing Member in the South Australian parliament. Bob was a passionate advocate for natural burial, and his understanding of its value and potential saw him persist for more than a decade with a Bill to reform burial and cremation practices in the State. Sadly, Bob passed away just a few months before his Bill was proclaimed the Burial and Cremation Act (2013).