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How to Scatter Cremation Ashes with Australian Laws and Environment in Mind

Scattering ashes can be an important way to add meaning to a cremation. Helping you bring closure and celebrate a loved one's life- it can also form a crucial part of the grieving process. In this blog post we discuss the different ways you can scatter cremated ashes in Australia- covering meaningful ways you can do this, within the scope of the law, and environmental concerns.

Scattering ashes

Scattering Cremated Remains: Everything You Need To Know

Scattering ashes is an important part of the cremation process in many cultures and religions. A loved one's ashes can be used in a variety of ways, which bring comfort and meaning to a memorial service. For some, scattering a loved one's cremated remains into nature can bring a sense of peace from the symbolic return to the earth. For others, it's a religious obligation.

Whilst many families choose to scatter a loved one's ashes, there are many ways to make the scattering ceremony meaningful, and personal. Whether it's choosing to scatter the ashes in a significant place, a special park or memorial park- this final farewell can provide comfort after a person dies.

It is however important to consider the law set in place by government authorities, on where you can and cannot scatter the ashes of a loved one. In addition, theres potential environmental and health hazard concerns to consider before scattering cremated ashes just anywhere. For some places, you may need permission to carry out the scattering ceremony.

Read on to learn more- on everything from the cremation process, what human ashes are, and various options for how to scatter them. We'll also be touching on the laws surrounding this practise, and how to integrate scattering ashes into an environmentally conscious cremation.

Quick debrief on the cremation process

Cremation is becoming increasingly popular amongst family members in Australia. It involves reducing the human body to ash through high heat, over the course of a few hours at a specialised facility.

What are human ashes made up of?

After cremation, the human remains are commonly called ashes. Cremation ashes can be placed in a sealed container- known as an urn- for ashes scattered according to the family members wishes. In reducing the need for a funeral director, burial plot and casket- a cremation can be a more affordable and flexible alternative to traditional burial.

What do cremated remains look like?

Getting squeamish about handling human ashes can be one concern when thinking about casting ashes into the wind. Knowing what to expect can help you feel prepared.

Cremation remains vary in colour from light grey to white. They make up a powdery substance, which can also range from fine, smooth, coarse or gritty. Human ashes may also contain small bone fragments.

What can you do with cremated ashes?

There are many options to fit every family. This can be scattering ashes on private or public land, somewhere in nature or the sea. It can also be interring ashes in a cremation casket or shallow trench within a cemetery or memorial garden, keeping the ashes in a cremation urn at home or having them turned into cremation diamonds or jewellery.

Alternatively, planting a memorial tree with the ashes can be another beautiful alternative to honour the life of a loved one over time, as the tree grows.

Special ideas for scattering ashes

Another option is to scatter the ashes in a special location that holds significance for your loved one or your family. This could be a favourite hiking trail, a scenic overlook, or even a park.

Popular options include the sea and beach, in the backyard or even have a small portion of ashes blowing across one area, then ashes in different locations or across different countries. There's endless options to integrate into a cremation memorial, even extending to aerial ashes- where a professional will scatter ashes out from a private plane.

Scattering ashes ceremony

Just like with a traditional burial, a ceremony can bring important closure and peace at this time of grief. However you choose to scatter cremated remains, holding a ceremony to mark the ground and scatter the ashes can carry on the same. This can be done with or without a funeral director, and can be as simple or elaborate as you would like.

A family member could say a poem and few words, or there could be a religious leader also present.

No matter how you choose to scatter the ashes, it's important to take the time to consider what will be most meaningful for you and your family. However, it is also important to consult the law and environmental impact before you and your family scatter a loved one's ashes.

The law on scattering ashes

For understandable reasons, there are laws around scattering ashes. These aim to preserve specific locations, where you are required to obtain permission to scatter ashes. With this in mind, it's important to seek guidance before planning a ceremony, or if you're unsure- a memorial park can be a good option.

Do I need local councils permission to scatter ashes?

For some locations, especially with public property, you will need permission to scatter ashes. In others- such as private property, memorial park or cemetery-it's less of an issue. However, if you plan to scatter ashes in a public area, such as a park or beach, you may need permission to scatter from the local council or relevant government authority.

It's important to check the regulations in your area to ensure that you are following the appropriate protocols and to avoid any potential legal issues after you scatter any ashes.

Scattering ashes on private land?

Whilst there might not be any legal restrictions, it's often customary to get the consent of the landowner before proceeding to scatter ashes on private property. If you own the private land, then theres no law or permission obligation to stop you scattering ashes here.

Either way, consulting with a funeral director or other professional team can be useful to ensure you follow all appropriate guidelines and practises in scattering and handling the ashes.

This can be as basic as minding the wind direction on a windy day, or can extend into any potential water pollution from scattering ashes in water.

Environmental Impact of Scattering Cremated Remains

While cremated remains are generally considered to be harmless, they can contain trace amounts of chemicals and minerals that may harm the environment if they aren't scattered properly. For this reason, you need permission to scatter human ashes in certain locations and in others it's entirely prohibited.

4 ways human Ashes can harm the environment:

  1. Soil contamination: Similar to wood ashes, human ashes can also alter the pH balance of the soil, harm plant growth and disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem if they are not properly dispersed

  2. Water contamination: human ashes can contain trace amounts of chemicals or heavy metals that can be harmful to aquatic life, and so may contaminate bodies of water if you scatter them into a sea or river.

  3. Cultural and spiritual significance: In some cultures, it is considered disrespectful or inappropriate to scatter human ashes in certain ways. It's important to consider the cultural significance of the land you're planning to scatter ashes on.

  4. Spread of disease: If human ashes are not properly handled, they also have the potential to spread disease if they contain viruses or other pathogens.

To avoid these potential negative impacts, it is important where you need permission from other government authorities to scatter human ashes. Following local regulations, guidelines or even opting for scattering gardens within a cemetery can be a less environmentally harmful decision.

Cost of a scattering service?

How much does it cost to buy an urn?

Urn prices range drastically depending on the design and size you choose. After a cremation, the cremated remains need to be held somewhere before you scatter ashes. This can be a simple, affordable metal container- or can be a personally designed urn for display.

How much you spend on an urn may reflect whether you're choosing to inter, scatter or hold the cremated remains in the urn.

Regardless of your choice, an urn represents a cheaper option to a traditional casket or coffin. You also don't need a funeral director to scatter ashes and hold a ceremony, so this can drastically reduce the cost as well.

To Wrap Up

There are many options for what to do with ashes after a cremation. From scattering, to burial in a cemetery- there are options for every family. In avoiding many of the costs associated with a traditional burial, cremation and scattering ashes can also offer a more affordable option for honouring a loved one after their death.

Many find it more comforting to scatter close to home, rather than have their loved one's remains in a cemetery far away. Before doing so however, it's imperative to consider the various laws and environmental impacts of scattering ashes.

How Safewill Can Help

Safewill offers an easy, supportive and affordable service for all things end of life planning. From planning and paying for your cremation ahead of time to take the burden off your family, to writing your Will within a day to safeguard support with remaining assets- Safewill's got you covered.

Our team of legal and funeral experts are here to support you at each step of the way. And they're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you at your time of need on 1300 730 639, or via live chat now.

Last updated 03rd March 2023
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Hannah Comiskey
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