Caskets set to be allowed at public memorial spots
THE Fraser Coast is on track to be one of the first councils in Queensland to allow funeral memorial services to be conducted in public parks.
This is after the region's councillors voted unanimously for a report to be prepared on finding suitable locations. Under the proposal, caskets would be allowed at these ceremonies.
The report will return to council at a later date with a list of suggested locations put up for approval.
Hervey Bay's Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Holebrook believed the bold changes, if approved, could be a "unique drawcard" for the region.
She said so long as discretion was enforced, allowing funerals to be held in public would be an indication of the "maturity of our community."
"I think it's great to say we are mature enough to say we can offer these options," Ms Holebrook said.
"I don't see it as a problem, if people choose to do it discreetly and council allows it.".
The controversial proposal made national headlines and received an enormous, mixed response on social media.
Councillor Paul Truscott, who moved the original motion, said he was surprised the issue had attracted so much public attention.
"I've spoken to a number of people about the issue over the past few weeks, and it has raised some interesting discussion," Cr Truscott said.
"At the very least, people have found the conversation needs to be had.
"Funeral services don't have to be morbid and sad events, they can be a celebration of the person's life."
Cr Truscott said he wasn't suggesting services be held in prime locations like Hervey Bay's iconic Urangan Pier, but felt there were locations which fitted the criteria for families wanting to host public memorials.
Cr Darren Everard said it was a great move and the council needed to "move with the times."
"Not everyone wants to be sent off in a church or a crematorium chapel," Cr Everard said.
"I do think that other councils will follow us on this motion."
Despite a unanimous vote, three councillors expressed some doubt over caskets being allowed in the region's parks.
Among them was Cr Denis Chapman who said the considerations of the community needed to be taken into account.
"This is the chance for the community to have their say on what they feel our parks should be used for," he said.