Time to give dead a voice

Councillor Marcus Cornish believes it’s a grave mistake that Penrith does not have digital public information on cemeteries. Photo: Melinda Jane

As the popularity of tracing family history increases, more people are going searching to find where loved ones or ancestors are buried.

Local councils across Australia are adopting online cemetery registers for people to look up the location of their buried loved ones, but according to Councillor Marcus Cornish, Penrith Council has fallen behind.

“I am concerned that Penrith Council is behind the times when it comes to digital public information on cemeteries in regard to who is buried where,” he said.

“Nearly all other councils in Sydney have digital information freely available on websites so that people can easily find out where their loved ones and friends are buried. Penrith Council needs to catch-up in this regard to the standard that the people expect.”

At last month’s Ordinary Council Meeting, Cr Cornish said he was “shocked” to discover that Penrith Council did not have a digital information bank for their cemeteries, despite surrounding councils having already adopted their own system of tracking burials and cremations in Council owned and operated cemeteries.

This includes Blue Mountains City Council, which uses a cemetery register allowing people to search a name to find the cemetery location, denomination and even an interactive map of where they are located.

Additional details including date of death and their age of death are included for many searches providing ease for people who are interested in tracing family lineage. The indexes are updated regularly and placed online to help people locate their loved ones’ graves or to assist with family history research.

“These online information banks and networks are also becoming more popular with people tracing their family history and will increase in interest into the future,” Cr Cornish said.

“I am also concerned that the lack of a New Cemeteries Policy and the fact that Penrith Council has no current plans to build any new cemeteries, will cause undue stress on people who have lost someone in the future.

“It’s time for Council to stop ignoring our dead.”

A report is currently being prepared for Cr Cornish and will be presented to Council later this year.