Following community outrage, Griffith City Council is going to stop removing ornaments from graves at Griffith cemetery – for a while at least.
Council advises “a Notice of Motion regarding the cemetery has been received for consideration by council at the next ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 13 June 2017. Until this matter has been put to Council, the removal of ornaments at the Cemetery has been placed on hold”.
The Area News article on ornaments being removed from lawn sections of the cemetery provoked a strong reaction. Almost 1400 people responded to our online poll, with 83 per cent describing the decision as “disgraceful”.
Council cemetery workers have also reported receiving threats from angry residents. We note these workers are just doing their job – the order to remove ornaments has come from council executive.
With executive reconsidering, a community fightback is trying to make the “hold” on removals permanent.
The community and development council, a volunteer ratepayers group, has organised a meeting for 6pm on Monday 12 June, where people can voice their frustration and offer ideas. The group will present recommendations at the council meeting the following day.
Group president Carmel La Rocca said council have handled the matter in a “cold-hearted” way.
“When a person puts something on a grave, they do so for a special reason. It’s their way of grieving. People should have the right to do so,” she said.
A number of Griffith residents have talked about the heartbreak they experienced on the weekend when they noticed flowers, angel statues, birthday cards and presents ripped from graves – often leaving ugly glue stains.
Ms La Rocca said grave ornaments have deep sentimental value, and council should phone a family member before removing anything from a grave.
When The Area News asked council why family members have not been telephoned, general manger Brett Stonestreet said, “there are a lot of graves and it is difficult to determine who should be the contact person for each internment.”
Ms La Rocca said one problem is that council provided devices for holding flowers are poorly made, meaning flowers do not stay standing. For this reason, families make their own arrangements.
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