Frequently asked questions — Unmarked First World War Graves funding program

Last updated: 
28 January 2020

The Unmarked First World War Graves funding program provides funding assistance for individuals or community groups to arrange for a privately placed grave marker for currently unmarked graves in Australia of veterans of the First World War.

How is this different from Official Commemoration?

Official commemoration requires a determination to be made that there is a link between the veteran's death and their war service. If eligible, a marker will be provided at no cost and the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) will maintain the official commemoration in perpetuity.

For this funding assistance, no determination is required to link the cause of death to the veteran's service. If the criteria is met and your application is successful, funding assistance will be provided, however maintenance of the grave marker remains the responsibility of the applicant.

What is an "unmarked grave"?

For the purpose of this program, funding is available to place a private marker on a currently unmarked grave. The current grave must be completely bare of any permanent headstone, plaque or kerbing.

How much funding assistance for each grave marker can I apply for?

The total amount available for each grave marker is capped at $450 (exclusive of GST).

What if the grave marker I wish to place costs more than the funding assistance that is available through this process?

The funding assistance that is available may be used to contribute to the cost of placing a grave marker. In this case you are encouraged to seek funding through other means, such as but not limited to, community groups or other forms of fundraising.

Authority and approvals

How do I obtain Proof of Service?

You may already hold documentation, if not, you can obtain Proof of Service from the National Archives of Australia. Records of those enlisted in the First World War are fully digitised and can be viewed or printed at no cost.

Who has ownership of the grave?

This is usually referred to as the "Right of Burial" and generally lies with the family of the deceased. To find out who has this right over a grave, please contact the relevant cemetery authority.

What is a cemetery authority?

For large cemeteries it will be the Cemetery Authority on site at the cemetery. In other cases, where the cemetery is smaller, the local council where the cemetery is located will be the authority. Some cemeteries may be managed by someone local to the town where the cemetery is located. If no information is available, please contact the local council who should be able to provide assistance.

What is tenure?

Most states within Australia have in place, or are considering, regulations which limit the tenure of burial licences for graves and niches in some or all of their cemeteries. These tenure periods can range from 25 to 60 years and vary across authorities. We advise that you ask the cemetery authority if tenure applies, if so, when it will expire and what is the cost to renew.

Will the government contribute or pay towards the cost of renewing tenure?

Neither DVA nor OAWG have any responsibility for renewal of tenure. Renewal of tenure is the responsibility of the owner of the grave.

How do I get approval?

Approval to alter the grave can be obtained from the family. If no living family is found, you can provide an approval to alter the grave from the relevant cemetery authority.

What if I cannot locate relatives of the veteran?

You can provide a statutory declaration stating the efforts made to locate relatives of the veteran. Searches for relatives may include checking with the cemetery authority, placing signage at the grave site or advertising in a local newspaper.


How long will my application take?

Applications can be submitted at any time and will be processed within 90 days of receipt of application where possible.

If my application is not approved, can I apply again? What are the timeframes?

If your application is not approved, you may resubmit at a later stage. The standard processing times of up to 90 days is applied.

Is there a timeframe to complete the grave marker?

The grave marker should be completed within 180 days of the funding being made available.

How do I get a plaque made?

As a general rule foundries that manufacture plaques do not deal directly with the public. If you require assistance on where or how to obtain a plaque please contact the cemetery authority or the local council.

What does the grave marker have to be?

The grave marker should comply with the requirements of the relevant cemetery where the grave is located.

Does the grave marker have to include a service emblem? If so, how do I obtain this?

The marker should include a service emblem to recognise the veteran's service. A letter of permission to incorporate the service emblem will be forwarded to you, with your offer of funding.