George Simpson: “Exploring the possibility of grave reuse in way that meets family needs”

Photo of George Simpson

There is widespread understanding that availability of cemetery land is a critical concern throughout Australia. Many cemeteries are predicted to reach capacity in the next 20 to 30 years.

In an effort to meet community needs Rookwood General Cemetery is conducting an extensive soil study that could allow families to continue using their family graves for generations.

Whilst renewable tenure is something that many communities are not comfortable with, the reuse of family graves is common in other countries and cultures. Often family traditions encourage reuse of graves in order to allow families to bury their loved ones in the same area as their relatives.

With this in mind, Rookwood’s soil decomposition project is looking at ways to influence soil composition by exploring safe ways to accelerate the decomposition process, including different soil mixes, water, oxygen, oxidising compounds and varying temperatures. The results of the study could impact burial practices and enable us to continue meeting community needs in the future.

This revolutionary project is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Technology and Doctor Boyd Dent, a consultant Geoscientist. We believe it is a world first, and whilst it is a long-term project, we are beginning to capture interesting results that we can share with the industry.

George Simpson is Chief Executive Officer of Rookwood General Cemetery. He commenced his career in the funeral industry in the 1980’s, as Assistant Undertaker for the largest funeral provider in the UK, The Co-operative. He spent his days washing hearses and trimming coffins, before transitioning into the roles of Funeral Director, Area Manager and Regional Manager.

In 2008 George moved to Australia, taking on the position of Shared Services Manager NSW with InvoCare. In this role, he oversaw improvements in service delivery, client satisfaction and operational efficiencies.

Since joining Rookwood General Cemetery, he has been instrumental in improving service delivery, implementing an effective stakeholder engagement program and developing a strategic plan focused on providing quality and affordable funeral services to the multicultural Sydney community.

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