Cr Michael Armstrong, wife Jenni and children Rory 13, Sienna, 11 and Caira, 4.
Cr Michael Armstrong, wife Jenni and children Rory 13, Sienna, 11 and Caira, 4. contributed

Memorial areas for children protected

THE Tweed Shire Council will forever protect a special resting place for children in its cemeteries thanks to the intervention of a councillor who six years ago suffered the loss of a baby.

Cr Armstrong said he and his wife Jenni found it difficult to grieve for their daughter, who was stillborn in 2009, because the cemetery where she was laid to rest did not segregate children from adults.

"There is a difference in the ways that parents grieve the death of a child," he told the Tweed Daily News.

"You want to personalise the area, make a little memorial with toys and keepsakes, which is not appropriate for an adult."

He was pleased when he found out Valley Cemetery, Tweed Heads Cemetery and Murwillumbah Lawn Cemetery all had special areas for children.

Tweed Valley Cemetery has Gumnut Gardens. Every Christmas, cemetery staff put Christmas decorations on a nearby hoop pine, which has been warmly received by the families.

Murwillumbah Lawn Cemetery has a small, grassed terraced area reserved for children's burials, with coloured concrete edging highlighting plaques. Tweed Heads Cemetery has three burial areas for children.

"The Tweed Shire has some good policies and has been doing good work with sensible options," Cr Armstrong said.

"Burying a child is very hard and it's very positive that a special area has been set aside for families and for children ... it has been really well done compared to other places.

"It has been done sensitively and appropriately, and I can only say from now my own experience that families will go to those cemeteries for years to come."

Cr Armstrong's motion was to pre-empt any pressures on the council for public land and population growth. It was unanimously supported by fellow councillors and received positively by residents.

"It really does mean a lot to families that they are able to grieve for people that are incredibly young," he said.

Manager recreation services Stewart Brawley said the council's burial policy rewrite was close to completion.

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