- There’s a growing trend towards cremations, with many choosing to keep ashes at home.
- The cemetery industry needs to improve standardisation, collaboration, and increase policy influence.
- Educating the community about death and interment options is crucial to avoid backlash and miscommunication.
- Innovative memorialisation includes registering home memorialisation locations and public memorialisation collaboration with local councils.
- Respect for tradition while embracing new ideas is a common leadership theme in the industry.
- There’s potential for collaboration between ACCA and AFDA.
The ACCA Annual Conference and Trade Show 2023 brought together a diverse cohort of businesses and industry professionals at the Pullman Hotel, Albert Park, Victoria, from the 22nd to the 25th of October. Our Chronicle representative, Sam, attended this insightful conference with more than 220 registered participants. This includes 21 delegates from China and representatives from over 75 unique businesses, the event served as a dynamic platform for insights and exchanges in the cemetery and funeral industry.
The conference featured an array of significant announcements and events, including the election of three new ACCA board members, Dean, Micheal, and Robert, and a farewell to the outgoing ACCA CEO. The addition of new board members signifies the continuous evolution and growth of the ACCA and its commitment to the industry.
The event’s diversified program ensured a comprehensive exposure to the industry’s different facets. The conference opened with a presentation by the Platinum Sponsor, followed by an update from the Australian Funeral Directors Association. Other key events included the Death Tech Research Group Presentation and enlightening discussions on implementing a new cemetery management system.
Site tours to Springvale Cemetery and Bunurong added a practical exploration and deeper context to the discussions, providing participants with firsthand insights into efficient cemetery operations.
Interesting Facts from the Event
- “What are the current trends in funeral practices?” Kathlene Oliver from the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board explained that there is an emerging trend of cremations, with some regions like Perth seeing up to 82% cremations. Additionally, more people are choosing to take the ashes home.
- “What are some areas where the cemetery industry needs to improve?” Laz Cotsios from Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust said that standardization and collaboration, especially with Class B entities, are areas that need enhancement. There is also a call for more influence on policy and industry by associations.
- “What’s the impact of not educating the community about death and interment options?” There could be backlash from the community and possible miscommunication, as Kathlene said. Therefore, Laz added that there is a need for bidirectional education – from the cemetery industry to the community and vice versa.
- “What are some innovative approaches towards memorialization?” One suggestion is the concept of “Register your loved one”, where the public can log a location for at-home memorialization. Collaborating with local councils about public memorialization locations was also mentioned by Kathlene.
- “What are the leadership styles in the cemetery industry?” Various leadership styles prevail. However, Dean Matthews from Geelong Cemeteries Trust observed that common themes include respect for past ways. Meanwhile, Kathlene added that introducing new ideas and leading by example are also encouraged.
- “Is there room for collaboration between ACCA and AFDA?” Yes, there was consensus on exploring collaborative opportunities between ACCA and AFDA.
During the conference, the committee provided a space where the attendees could raise questions to the CEOs in Australia: Laz Cotsios from SMCT, Dean Matthews from GCT, and Kathlene Oliver from MCB. Moderated by James McKay from ACCA Life Member, the discussion was nothing but fruitful. Here are some of the interesting questions from the insightful discussion.
Moreover, there was also a moment where speakers talked about how cemetery practices and regulations vary considerably across states and territories in Australia. The Australian Capital Territory primarily collaborates with the Office of Australian War Graves, while New South Wales contends with the absence of monument safety standards, making compliance with the Interment Scheme difficult. In contrast, Queensland and Western Australia see politically motivated plot pricing, with all burial sites maintained indefinitely. South Australia has a unique approach, allowing for the “re-use” of plots after exhuming and reburying remains deeper, all while keeping comprehensive records. Victoria’s Class A cemeteries are state-regulated and contribute to a levy pool that benefits Class B cemeteries.
How can Chronicle contribute to most of these problems
When we talked to cemetery operators, we found some interesting insights. Digitization projects can occasionally take longer to complete, with progress moving at a slow pace. Before making a commitment with a provider, cemeteries should ensure they are prepared for this. On average, thanks to our innovative technological services, Chronicle can complete a project between 1 to 3 months. For specific assignments with good data, it could even be as quick as a week! We utilize advanced technologies such as headstone surveys, AI integration, and continuous software performance improvements. Furthermore, our skilled GIS Specialist Team and sophisticated plot mapping capabilities set us apart.
We extend our sincere gratitude to ACCA for their hospitality at the Annual Conference and Trade Show 2023. It was truly an honor to meet and engage with various cemetery representatives. We eagerly look forward to fostering more collaborations with esteemed industry participants.
Also, we would love to demonstrate how Chronicle can bolster your cemetery operations and elevate your service offerings. Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our platform. Let us work together to revolutionize the industry.