A new Stakeholder Engagement Council (SEC) has been established to map the future of Sydney’s cemeteries, enlisting 15 community representatives from a broad range of faiths and communities in NSW.

The council includes members of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, Indigenous, Filipino, and Catholic communities and will report to the board of Catholic Cemeteries & Crematoria.

Representative Community
Mariam Ardati Muslim Community
Rosette Shamoun Chaldean and Assyrian Community
Barry Barakat Catholic Maronite

Community

Darren Bark Jewish Community
Peter Murphy Baptist Community
Auntie Lisa Hunter Dharawal Indigenous

Community

Kazi Ali Muslim Community
Jhun Salazar Filipino Community
Dean Fr John Ho Catholic, Vietnamese, Polynesian Communities
Lourdes Kaiser Filipino Community
Albert Olley Uniting Community
Dominic Niezgoda Polish Community
Ayya Suvira Buddhist Community
Shefali Pal Hindu Community
Dianne Van Aken Indigenous and Catholic Community

The first meeting of the council was held on 23 June 2022, chaired by community and consumer campaigner Christopher Zinn who has served on the board of the NSW regulator of cemeteries and crematoria.

Mr Zinn said, “Our first meeting recognised the urgent need for more burial spaces in Sydney, especially among the fastgrowing Muslim population, which like some other faiths, have traditions which require they bury their dead.

“The council is committed to ensure that communities and consumers’ diverse needs and views, regardless of their faith or even lack of it, are catered for in respectful and affordable ways in the process of funerals, burials and cremations,” he further added.

The objectives of the SEC include:

  • The interment practices and beliefs of all religious and cultural groups are respected equally
  • The quality of interment products and services meet community expectations
  • And affordable and accessible interment practices are available for all, particularly for those of limited means.

“We want the SEC to advise and help us better understand how cemetery operators can deliver the best possible experience to families, consumers, cultural and faith groups so we can continue to serve the community now with the Catholic trust’s four existing cemeteries and two more to be developed,” Mr Zinn concluded.