• Date: 20/12/2016
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

Leaders from Melbourne's Hindu, Islamic, Roman Catholic and Buddhist communities recently joined GMCT for a panel discussion on how the cemetery sector can meet the needs of our increasingly diverse communities.

As part of GMCT’s annual meeting, each community leader gave a presentation on the end of life practices of their faith, followed by a question-and-answer session facilitated by former journalist Leigh Funston. Members of the 70-strong audience, which included industry stakeholders, trust members, community representatives and staff, also had the opportunity to pose questions of their own to our panellists. 

Panellists pose with GMCT chair Geoff Mabbett (second from left), GMCT CEO Jacqui Weatherill (second from right) and facilitator Leigh Funston (far right)

The event was professionally filmed and will feature on the GMCT website and Facebook page early in 2017.

The conversation included an exploration of:

  • The role of women in funeral practices
  • The intersection of cultural traditions with sustainable end of life practices such as natural burials.
  • How cultural traditions have been transformed in an Australian context.

Our speakers also shared some interesting insights about end of life practices in their communities: 




Venerable Phuoc Tan
Abbot and Director, Quang Minh Temple

At a Buddhist funeral, family members usually wear white, while others in attendance should wear black. It is said that Buddhists often cremate the dead in memory of the Buddha himself, whose body was cremated after his death around 477 B.C.



Mohammed Mohideen
Islamic Council of Victoria

Mohammed Mohideen shared this quote from the Holy Quran (Islamic religious text) as part of his presentation:

“Death is a glass from which every man shall drink and it is a door through which every man shall have to pass.”

Muslims are advised to visit the graves of their relatives and friends as a reminder of death, which is inevitable.



Makarand Bhagwat
Hindu Council of Australia

Traditionally, Hindus would be cremated in the open on a wooden pyre. In Australia, open cremation is not possible for health and safety reasons, therefore offering the body to the fire is done only symbolically.

Makarand Bhagwat said that while current cremation facilities and practices in Australia suit Hindu funerals, chapels could perhaps have Hindu faith backdrops for a “feel at home” factor.

Roman Catholicism


Father Vito Pergolo
St Brigid's Catholic Parish, Fitzroy

Father Vito Pergolo said the Australian cemetery sector caters well to the needs of Roman Catholics.

He noted that funeral practices among Roman Catholics in Australia haven’t changed as rapidly as they have among Roman Catholics in Italy. In Italy, more people are choosing cremation as an alternative to burial, which has been favoured traditionally.


Visit GMCT's Facebook page for more photos from the event. 


GMCT chair Geoff Mabbett

Panellists were greeted by members of the public and representatives of other cultural and religious groups in attendance 

Mohammed Mohideen, Father Vito Pergolo and Venerable Phuoc Tan


GMCT CEO Jacqui Weatherill led the annual meeting and also participated in the panel discussion