The department does not directly regulate stonemasons. However, the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (the Act) regulates the work that can be conducted by stonemasons regarding the establishment and alteration of memorials and places of interment. Importantly, under s. 99 of the Act, a cemetery trust must approve all applications to establish or alter a memorial or place of interment.
If a cemetery trust is engaged in the selling and supplying of memorialisation products, they must adhere to a Code of Practice.
If a stonemason has an issue with a cemetery trust, they must bring it up with the cemetery trust in the first instance. If there is no resolution to the issue, the issue may be referred to the department.
Monument construction procedures and standards
Section 98 of the Act provides details of the process for making application to a trust for the establishment or alteration of a monument. A cemetery trust may either approve or refuse the application within 45 days of the application being made under s. 99 of the Act.
The Cemeteries and Crematoria Association of Victoria (CCAV) has developed a form – Application to establish or alter a memorial or place of interment.
It is important that the trust exercises its responsibility, if necessary, to the point of measuring and pegging the location for a monument on a site. This will prevent the monument being constructed on an incorrect grave.
An applicant may lodge an appeal against the decision of the trust with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
It is recommended that the trust adopts a procedure that requires monumental masons to:
- submit a work schedule to the trust outlining the timing of works, including any inspection times
- keep a copy of the permit issued by the trust with them at all times when working in the cemetery.
Part 4 of the Model Rules under schedule 2 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulations 2015 provides power to the cemetery trust to inspect memorials, places of interment and buildings for ceremonies in the cemetery. It also recommends that materials used in that work are, as far as practicable, prepared off site.
Monuments – during construction
During the course of construction, a monument should be inspected by a representative of the trust who, if considered necessary, could be a consulting engineer or other appropriately qualified person. A full monument constructed on concrete pier-and-beam foundations should be inspected a number of times to ensure construction is proceeding in accordance with the permit and the Australian Standard – for example:
- after excavation for foundations and placement of steel reinforcement, but before concrete for foundations is poured
- during construction to ensure all dowels are correctly positioned
- on completion, but while the masons are still at the site, to ensure the finished monument is of a standard acceptable to the trust and that the site is left tidy.
The purpose of this oversight by the trust is so that the construction of the monument adheres with the cemetery trust’s conditions, and is not to ensure the monument is constructed properly in accordance with any other industry standards. A cemetery trust should not assume any liability for the construction of a monument by a third party.
Some cemetery trusts have found it prudent to pre-install concrete pier-and-beam foundations for multiple graves. This will often provide a superior end result, as the trust has improved control over quality (compared to individual foundations being constructed for the same graves), and the foundations of multiple graves are tied together as one unit to provide increased stability.
Monuments – Australian Standards
The suggested standards for all monument construction in Victorian cemeteries are the Australian Standards, specifically:
Australian Standard AS-4204 Headstones and cemetery monuments
Australian Standard AS-4425 Above ground interment structures (Mausolea)
These publications are available, at cost, only from Standards Australia.
The objective of the Australian Standards is to enable cemetery authorities and monumental masons to specify minimum structural design criteria, performance, installation and renovation requirements for headstones and cemetery monuments, so that these may have a minimum service life of 50 years.