Cemeteries to merge after audit on Sydney grave space

·2-min read
Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Three years is all some Orthodox and Muslim communities have left before their allocated grave space in Sydney's crown cemeteries is filled.

And the Eastern Orthodox faith, which includes Greek Orthodox, will run out of grave space in four and a half years.

The dire situation revealed on Friday has prompted the amalgamation of three crown cemetery managers - Rookwood General, Northern Metropolitan and Southern Metropolitan - into a single entity.

The new Metropolitan Cemeteries and Crematoria Land Manager will be tasked with addressing the serious challenges facing the Sydney cemetery and crematoria sector and ensuring respectful and affordable burial and cremation services remain available for all, the NSW government said.

"This merger will provide certainty for the industry, staff and consumers and a clear path to better manage our cemeteries so that the city's burial needs are met and we can identify new efficiencies," Lands and Property Minister Steve Kamper said on Friday.

An audit commissioned by Mr Kamper found the supply of graves for the Armenian and Antiochian Orthodox faiths will exhaust in three years, as will the supply of graves for Muslim burials, and the Eastern Orthodox faith will run out in four and a half years.

Burial is the only interment practice used by people of the Muslim and Orthodox faiths.

It comes after an independent review found urgent action was needed to address "considerable" gaps in the governance framework of OneCrown.

OneCrown was launched by the Berejiklian Liberal government in 2021 in a bid to merge NSW's five large crown cemetery operators and ward off financial collapse.

But indecision on the project's future halted key investment decisions and led to the resignation of one in three staff.

"The independent report that was released last month highlighted the disaster that the previous government created through indecision and infighting. We will not make the same mistakes," Mr Kamper said.