Remembrance Parks Central Victoria under fire for gravesite decoration crackdown

Remembrance Parks Central Victoria under fire for gravesite decoration crackdown

About 250 residents have protested outside a regional Victorian cemetery after mourners were banned from placing mementos on the graves of their loved ones and existing items were removed.

Key points: Bereaved families say they were not consulted before keepsakes were removed from graves. Protesters say long-standing grave decorations were found in rubbish bins at the site

Mourning friends and family at Bendigo’s Eaglehawk Cemetery today called on Remembrance Parks Central Victoria (RPCV) to rescind new rules preventing them from decorating grave sites.

The new rules prohibit people from placing a range of items on graves, including ceramic vases, solar lights, photo frames or pebbles, and require existing items to be removed by February 5.

RPCV, a state-owned company, operates 11 cemeteries across the region, as well as sites in Sunbury and Shepparton.

A petition against the change has garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

A sign near one of the cemetery entrances lists its “General Decorating Guidelines”. (ABC Central Victoria: Emma D’Agostino) Decorations already removed

Some decorations had already been removed and others were found in burial containers, with residents quick to express their heartbreak.

This is how Jenny Grey-Knight found her father’s grave after decorations were forcibly removed. (Supplied: Jenny Gray Knight)

Bendigo’s Lisa Kidman lost her 17-year-old daughter to suicide nine years ago and regularly visited her grave in Eaglehawk Cemetery.

She said her daughter loves guinea pigs and dolphins, and her grave was decorated with statues of the animals, as well as solar lights and flowers.

“One of her friends called me and said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but it’s all gone. That guinea pig statue you ordered nine years ago, the dolphins — they’re all gone,'” said Ms. Kidman.

Lisa Kidman said she broke her ankle in the cemetery a day ago. (ABC Central Victoria: Emma D’Agostino)

“My parents, who are also dead now, also left jewelry on their graves.

“These items are irreplaceable, they’re just gone without bothering us.”

Ms Kidman said she broke her ankle the previous day while visiting the cemetery after falling into a hole covered by a piece of green grass.

“I refused not to come today,” she said in a wheelchair.

“I got myself out of the hospital against all her wishes.

“They are [RPCV] they worry about solar lights, they worry about dolphin jewelry, they worry about vases that have been there for 20 years…no holes in the bottom? hold on tight.”

Lisa Kidman said there was always color on her daughter’s grave until recently. (Supplied: Lisa Kidman) A “deeply emotional issue”

A government spokesman said RPCV is responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of its cemeteries.

“The Victorian Government expects the Trust to respect the jewelry and valuables of bereaved families and to communicate any changes appropriately and respectfully,” they said.

RPCV says it wants people to be able to personalize graves, but not in an “unsafe” way. (ABC Central Victoria: Emma D’Agostino)

A spokesman for the RPCV Trust acknowledged that the new rules are a “deeply emotional issue”.

They said the move was for the “health and safety of its staff and visitors” as well as “to protect the environment and support the diverse cultural and religious needs of the wide range of people in Victorian communities”.

The spokesman said it is also working with families who have installed “unsafe and non-compliant seats” at gravesites

They recognized that the organization needed to better explain to families what was and was not allowed at the sites.

Ron and Lyn Purves have decorated the graves of their son and his young son for 30 years. (ABC Central Victoria: Emma D’Agostino) Opposition MP calls for dismissal

But North Victoria State Member Wendy Lovell called on Secretary of Health Mary-Anne Thomas to dismiss the cemetery’s trustee committee for lack of compassion.

Spacebar to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows for volume.ListenDuration: 6 minutes 46 seconds6 min The removal of grave decorations has sparked protests.

“It’s just a sudden change of direction that hasn’t been well received by the community,” she said.

“They manage this facility on behalf of the communities where the cemeteries are located and they should show more compassion.

“Their own values ​​and mission state that they will work with the community and steward these facilities with compassion.

“I think there’s a pattern here, with their price increase over the last year and now this, that shows they’re not willing to work with the community.”

Wendy Donaldson says there’s nothing left on her parents’ grave. (ABC Central Victoria: Emma D’Agostino)

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