State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell raised a constituency question in parliament on Thursday, June 22, calling on the Victorian Health Minister to order the postponement of Remembrance Parks Central Victoria’s annual meeting amid concerns the trust may not have met its statutory obligations to provide sufficient public notice of the meeting.
Ms Lovell said the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act mandates that a public notice must be published in newspapers circulating in the relevant area of the holding of the annual meeting.
The RPCV board published a sole public notice in the Bendigo Advertiser on Friday, June 16, stating the meeting would be held by webinar.
The notice also stated that attendees must RSVP to the event by Thursday, June 22, giving the public just six days from the notice of the meeting to do so, Ms Lovell said.
After the matter was mentioned in parliament, the cemetery trust board that manages cemeteries at Pine Lodge, Kialla West, Bendigo, Sunbury and Donnybrook backflipped, putting a post on its website and social media saying people could register to attend the meeting by 5pm on Monday, June 26.
Ms Lovell was also scathing of the decision for the meeting to be held online and not in person, as well as the fact that it had only been advertised in the Bendigo paper and not in the media in other towns where the RPCV ran cemeteries such as Shepparton.
Remembrance Parks Central Victoria chairperson Marg Lewis said the annual meeting had been held online in recent years and that it was also advertised on the RPCV website and social media.
“We find that more people from across all our communities can attend this way,” Ms Lewis said.
However, Ms Lovell said the trust should have a meeting where people could attend in person but that was also streamed online for those who could not make it.
Ms Lovell also said the meeting should have been held earlier than now.
They are normally held in November, but Ms Lewis said it was being held later this year because of the timing of the 2022 Victorian election.
She said cemetery trusts were not able to hold their annual meetings until after their annual reports were tabled in Victorian Parliament.
However, Ms Lovell said the report was tabled on December 22, and the meeting should have been held sooner.
“It hasn’t been held until now because there was so much anger from those in the community who have loved ones in the cemetery,” Ms Lovell said of community angst after the trust removed personal items from graves at cemeteries including Pine Lodge in late December.
The annual meeting will be held online on Tuesday, June 27, at 4pm.
Interested people can RSVP by sending their name to [email protected] or phoning 1300 266 561 by 5pm on Monday.