Taking a user-centered approach to enable cemeteries to understand and plan for the burial needs of Melbourne’s Islamic communities.

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The Greater Melbourne Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) engaged Ellis Jones to consult with Melbourne’s diverse Muslim communities to build the Trust’s understanding of Islamic burial practices and needs and to provide a framework for ongoing engagement.

In particular, GMCT sought to understand demand for different types of graves and the community’s willingness to consider alternatives to the low yield directional graves with foundations that are currently offered to Muslim communities to ensure its scarce land resources are put to best use.


Using research as a form of engagement, Ellis Jones implemented a community centred consultation approach to ensure depth and breadth of engagement with community and religious leaders consisting of a mix of interviews, workshops and group consultations. The consultation focused on engaging the key Muslim communities (Somalian, Sri Lankan, Turkish, Egyptian) who utilise GMCT as well as the mosques in the surrounding areas (Preston, Broadmeadows, Meadow Heights).  The research included:

  • Initial desktop research to understand burial preferences and practices across key cultural groups and to inform interviews.
  • 1-1 interviews with minority groups and women.
  • A co-design workshop with community and religious leaders.
  • Focus groups with specific communities (women, young people, financially disadvantaged groups) provided an opportunity to dive deeper into how the issues uncovered in earlier research affect key communities.


The Executive Board of GMCT adopted all 27 recommendations of the research report. Some of the key outcomes of the research have been the:

  • Creation of a Muslim Community Forum to engage and build relationships with Muslim leaders to inform customer service and development priorities.
  • Enabled GMCT to determine a price for new burial products for Muslim communities that meet business and community needs.
  • Informed decision making around the development of new burial products.
  • Enabled GMCT customer service team to better market and communicate to relevant Muslim communities.