Australian Sikhs frustrated over lack of crematorium in Griffith city.

Melbourne, May 8 (IANS) The Sikh community in Australia’s New South Wales’ Griffith city — home to a sizeable number of Sikhs and Hindus — is growing increasingly upset with their demand for a local crematorium, proposed five years ago, yet to be developed.

Currently, the families have to travel to Wagga Wagga, the closest crematorium which is two hours away from Griffith, making it hard for them to carry out their rites and rituals, according to an ABC News report.

“For many of the families that have been there two or three generations, they want to be able to cremate their deceased and loved ones in the area they’ve grown up in,” Amar Singh, president of Sikh-led charity organisation Turbans 4 Australia, said.

“It’s a need of the time as we explode in population and more migration into regional towns and cities, we need those facilities,” Singh told ABC News, adding that a lack of regional cultural facilities was an “area of concern” in Griffith.

Sikhs number over 210,000 and account for 0.8 per cent of Australia’s population as of 2021, forming the country’s fifth-largest and fastest-growing religious group.

The largest Sikh populations in Australia are found in Victoria, followed by New South Wales and Queensland.

The progress over the crematorium has been tardy with location and plans yet to be established, making it difficult for the communities, notably the Sikhs and the Hindus, who cremate their deceased.

Griffith City Council’s director of infrastructure and operations, Phil King, told ABC News that the council was working with the one applicant that had made a submission to develop the facility.

“We’ve got a study that’s been done to show that councils can’t really compete against the private sector in this area, so a council-run facility might not be the best option,” he said.

“It will feel like slow progress at the moment…We don’t have a (development application) or anything like that, we don’t have any hard and fast plans right now,” King told ABC News, adding that the council wants “to get this right if we do go ahead with it.

“The crematorium, once operational, would be a fee-for-service.”

King said that typically funding is not available for things that have a fee-for-service, which is why the council did not expect a state or federal government funding to be available.