|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Prior to the proclamation of the Cemeteries Statute 1864, the administration of cemeteries had been governed by an 1850 New South Wales Act, 14 Vic., No.19, An Act for the establishment and regulation by Trustees of a General Cemetery near the City of Melbourne and by the provisions of An Act for the Establishment and Management of Cemeteries in the Colony of Victoria 17 Vic., No.12 (1854).
Under the provisions of the Cemeteries Acts trustees of public cemeteries were to be appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The Trustees were responsible for the establishment and management of public cemeteries, the collection of fees, expenditure of government subsidies including fencing grants and the making of rules and regulations for the administration of cemeteries. They were required to keep accounts of receipts and expenditure including grants from the consolidated revenue and to forward an annual abstract to the Chief Secretary for publication in the Government Gazette. Trustees were also empowered to make rules and regulations for the management and maintenance of cemeteries and to determine a scale of fees, subject to the approval of the Governor-in-Council and publication in the Government Gazette. They were required to permit the free burial of destitute persons.
By 1864 and until August 1873, the Commissioner of Public Works (VRG 28) and the Public Works Department (VA 669) were responsible for the administration of cemeteries including the appointment of trustees and approval of regulations and fees. From 1873 until 1888 the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey (VRG 18) and the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) were responsible and in 1888 the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) and the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) assumed responsibility. The Public Works Department (VA 669), however, continued to be responsible for the allocation of fencing grants.
In 1890, under the provisions of the Public Health Act 1889 (No.1044), the Minister of Health (VRG 39) and the Department of Public Health (VA 2904) became responsible for the management of cemeteries and responsibility has remained within the health portfolio. In 1944, with the proclamation of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.1988), there was a major reorganisation of the administration of health functions. Responsibility for all health services was transferred to the Minister of Health and a Department of Health (VA 695) was established. The Minister of Health became immediately responsible for the administration of the Cemeteries Acts
Since 1890 responsibility for cemeteries has remained with the Minister and departments responsible for health.
From 1867 under the provisions of the Public Health Amendment Act 1867 (No.310) trustees were required to maintain a Register of Burials. There are however very few records of individual cemeteries in the custody of the Public Record Office. See VRG 5 Cemeteries and List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.11.7 (Warringal Cemetery).