Ultimate Guide to Cemetery Grants in Victoria, Australia
Most people think of cemeteries and graveyards as merely a location where the remains of their loved ones are buried. Yet, for those attending to a cemetery or graveyard understand the considerable amount of care, attention to detail, and rehabilitation one requires. Undoubtedly this means a significant amount of money will at some point be the means to a solution to an unforecasted problem.
While some of the larger cemeteries can be comfortably self-funding and are, in most cases, extremely profitable businesses. However, many of the small to medium public cemeteries run by a group of dedicated volunteers often lack the finances to improve their area, hence the need for cemetery grants.
Government-backed financial assistance in the form of cemetery grants are created to assist public cemeteries and Cemetery Trusts in repairs, constructions, and physical (and digital) improvements for the benefit of the community. It’s also good to note, the availability of cemetery grants differs between states in Australia, as there is no national financial support for cemeteries. . Fortunately for Cemetery Trusts in Victoria, Victoria’s Department of Health offers a grant for qualifying cemeteries.
A Background on Cemetery Trusts in Victoria
Every public cemetery in the Great State of Victoria is managed by a selected group of individuals called a “Cemetery Trust.” All members of each trust are volunteers appointed by the Governor in Council, based on the recommendations of the Minister for Health.
In the purest sense, the role of a Cemetery Trust is to oversee the operations of their given cemeteries.
In Victoria, these trusts are classified into two classes:
Class A and Class B Cemetery Trusts.
Class A Cemetery Trusts manage large, and often multiple, cemeteries, while Class B Cemetery Trusts are in charge of small-to-medium-sized public cemeteries.
What You Need to Know About Victorian Cemetery Grants
Australia’s Victorian government grants, specifically their cemetery grant program are offered twice a year. This allows individual public trusts the opportunity to meet one of the two deadlines; which is currently in both November and March of each year.
What is the purpose of the cemetery grant?
According to the Department of Health, the cemetery grant, aims to “enhance the delivery of cemetery services” across Victoria, support the governance, maintain the infrastructure, sustain the volunteer workforce, and invest in the local community.
Who can qualify for the cemetery grant?
Victoria’s cemetery grant is available for both Class A and Class B Cemetery Trusts. In other words, all public cemeteries may apply, as long as they satisfy the eligibility requirements.
The State of Victoria knowingly recognises that Class B Cemetery Trusts have far less disposable income than Class A trusts. This is why the State of Victoria will prioritise all grant submissions based on need, rather than want. Meaning, Cemeteries; which direly need the support more are prioritised over others.
Another consideration that Australia’s Victoria Health Department takes into account is the nature of the requests. For instance, urgent needs (those involving public safety) will take precedence over others.
How Much Funding Is Available In The Grant?
Cemeteries, based on their needs, will be granted funds depending on how much the cemetery requires in order to implement their proposed improvements; along with the number of State funds available.
It is important to note that occasionally, the state may approve partial grants rather than the full amount, depending on the state funds available and the nature of the applications from the Cemetery Trust.
What Kind Of Projects Can Be Funded?
Since Victorian Cemetery Grants are need-based and give priority to cemeteries with less funding, you can apply based on the following needs/concerns:
Public Safety. Removal of items that may be a threat to public safety, such as walls.
- Tree Removal is also one of the valid concerns that this cemetery grant hopes to address. However, tree removal may need additional approval from the local council or the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning.
- Repairs. Enhance the cemetery’s function, like repairs involving roads, gates, fences, pathways, toilets, car parks, rotundas, walls, and storage sheds (or garages).
- Additional Burial Areas. Establishment of new burial areas is also considered one of the grounds for the application.
- Equipment. Grave covers, shoring equipment, watering systems, garden tools, lawnmowers, fuel, and poison are also included, as long as they contribute to the cemetery’s function.
- Computer Hardware. Laptops, desktops, or printers for the cemetery staff to use in enhancing public cemetery service.
- Cemetery Software. An up-and-coming trend in grant submissions is by utilising Victorian Government Grants for software, particularly cemetery management and mapping software. Cemetery Trusts may ask for funding to cover the following costs:
- Cemetery Records Software. The government-backed grant can be used for cemetery software over multiple years, especially for subscription-model software like Chronicle Cemetery Management Software.
- Cemetery Mapping Software and Surveying Services. The DHHS, also funds surveying services. The key benefit in utilising digital cemetery mapping services is that the cemeteries can have an accurate, real-world digital representation of their cemeteries, which the community can use to virtually navigate their public graves.
7. Consulting Services. Cemetery Trusts may apply for a strategic consulting grant, which may be used for funding future planning and design for cemeteries. Services for the analysis and improvement of messy cemetery records and databases may also be included here.
There are also applications considered ineligible by the State of Victoria. Ineligible grants are applications for financial provision for normal cemetery operations and certain kinds of repairs.
They include the following:
- Restoration and repairs of memorials
- Salary of trust employees
- Ground keeping or any form of ongoing cemetery maintenance
Additionally, the state does not provide reimbursements for funds spent in anticipation of the grant. Purchases, repairs, and any work specified on the application should commence after the state approves the funding, not before.
Successful Grant Approval: Beechworth Cemetery Trust
One good example of a successful grant application approval for cemetery software is the story of one of our members, Beechworth Cemetery Trust.
They applied for a grant to cover all of their expenses for cemetery records /digital cemetery mapping software (Chronicle), as well as strategic consulting services for their slightly unorganised documents, no fault of their own.
Fast forward the application process, Beechworth Cemetery Trust was able to obtain an approved grant. This enabled them to take care of all the necessary required changes; including receiving a 5-year Chronicle cemetery software contract.
With Chronicle, Beechworth has a cemetery mapping and records management rolled into one simple yet powerful software system; which they now use for better community service and engagement and further growth.
Read more about Beechworth Cemetery’s Case Study.
5 Easy Steps in Applying for the Victorian Cemetery Grant
Step 1: Download Cemetery Grant Application Form
Visit the Victoria State Government website for cemetery grants and download the application form.
If applying for a grant for tree removal, download the application form for this as well.
Step 3: Provide The Necessary Documents
long with the form, applicants must submit the following:
- Two Quotes (inc. GST) for the Proposed Expenses
- If Cemeteries are Not Able to Provide Two Quotes
- The Application Must Arrive with a Written Explanation of Why this is Not Possible
- Relevant Images
For trusts applying for a grant for tree removal, the application for removal of trees from cemetery grounds must be submitted with the cemetery grants application.
Make sure you provide all the documents required by the department. If the requirements are not met, the health department will request for more information, which may delay the process.
Step 4: Submit The Application
After completing the documents needed, the applications must be forwarded via email, post or fax to:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Post: Cemeteries and Crematoria Regulation Unit
Department of Health and Human Services
GPO Box 4057
Melbourne, Victoria 3001
- Fax: (03) 9096 9186
Step 5: Wait For The Update From The Department
After a while, applicants will be notified of the outcome of the grant via letter.
Can The Grant Application Be Denied?
Short answer, yes. But don’t fret, declined applicants will obtain the reason why declined and may resubmit their applications in the next round.
Will I Receive The Full Amount?
In some cases, the department may approve only a partial amount as they see fit. Unfortunately, Cemetery Trusts with partial grants will have to fund the remaining amount on their own.
What Happens After Your Cemetery Grant is Approved?
For Cemetery Trusts that are qualified for the grants, there are a few more things to note:
- The funds will be deposited into the Cemetery Trust bank account.
- Funds must be spent within 4 months of allocation.
- Cemetery Trusts must give a full account (in writing) of how and when the grant was spent.
- The department requires:
- A letter with the copy receipt or invoice
- Relevant photos (in the case of repairs, constructions, or tree removal)
- The department requires:
- When grants are not spent within 4 months, a Cemetery Trust must submit a letter explaining the delay, plus a revised completion date for their projects.
- If a Cemetery Trust fails to submit the documents necessary for verification, they will be disqualified for future grants, at least until they provide the required information.
Victorian Government Grants Can Help Fund Future Cemetery Projects
A Cemetery Trust does a tremendous job in keeping a public cemetery up and running but being a team of volunteers, they can only do so much.
In Victoria, Trusts can apply for grants to help them fund projects, like new burial site construction, repairs, and even purchasing cemetery records software, as these projects help promote public safety, improve cemetery function, and offer better service to the public.
Whether it’s for new equipment, toilet repairs, or for a records and mapping software to make your life easier, Victoria’s grant can help fund your vision for your community.
If you need any assistance or have any questions in regards to cemetery grants, do not hesitate to contact Chronicle.
Let us help by quickly working together in preparing the necessary documents; so your cemetery is fully equipped with the proper documents needed to get 100% approval for your software upgrade.
Resources: Victoria Cemetery Grants Guidelines”. health.vic.gov.au