The Mildura Rural City Council will work with the Mildura Cemetery Trust to enact all the recommendations made in today’s Victorian Ombudsman’s Report.
Council CEO Sarah Philpott said the findings had greatly concerned and disappointed the Council and the Trust.
“What the Ombudsman’s office has revealed is highly troubling and we apologise whole-heartedly to those families affected and acknowledge the impact the findings of the investigation have had and will continue to have on them,” she said.
“We have offered those families access to counselling free of charge and will continue to support them.”
Ms Philpott said the report’s findings will concern the greater Mildura community.
“We are acutely aware of the community’s expectations when it comes to dealing with their deceased loved ones with care and compassion and the consequent importance of the proper provision of cemetery services. To have this questioned disappoints us all. We all expect better.”
Ms Philpott said she and some other senior staff as well as the Chair of the Cemetery Trust Cr Min Poole had been aware of the investigation and had co-operated fully and with complete transparency with the Ombudsman’s office.
The Ombudsman made five recommendations in her report.
- Refer a past employee’s conduct to Victoria Police for investigation.
- Investigate disciplinary or management action in respect of the Manager referenced in the report.
- Work with the Department of Health and Human Services to resolve the historical governance issues surrounding the cemeteries.
- Ensure suitable replacement memorials be installed if memorial chairs subject to the report need to be removed due to deterioration over time.
- Provide suitable support to individuals and families affected by the report.
Ms Philpott said the former employee had resigned from Council in August last year.
Cr Poole added: “The report also raises complex governance issues for the Cemetery Trust.
“We do not shy away from the Ombudsman’s findings and we have already taken steps to rectify some of our services and procedures and we will continue to work together, and with the Department of Health and Human Services, which has oversight of the Cemetery Trust, to ensure that an ongoing service to the community is provided at the level we all expect.”