Augmenting the role of the Coroner to enhance suicide prevention:

Augmenting the role of the Coroner to enhance suicide prevention: Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC

Augmenting the role of the Coroner to enhance suicide prevention:
submission to Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry into suicide in Australia
Dodd, Peter.
Publication Date:
27 Nov 2009
Publication Type:

In this submission PIAC submits that the Coroners in Australia’s states and territories play a vital role in suicide prevention both in terms of their scrutiny of deaths by suicide and through making recommendations so that deaths can be prevented.

The submission highlights several areas of possible reform of coronial law in Australia to enhance the positive role that coroners and inquests play in suicide prevention.

The first is to move away from the current narrow view, currently applied by Australian Courts, of coroners’ power to make recommendations. PIAC submits that coronial legislation in Australia should provide coroners with broad powers to make findings and recommendations, including:

  • Defects, if any, in any system that has contributed to a death being investigated;
  • Reasonable precautions that could have been taken to prevent the death;
  • Other factors that are relevant to the circumstances of the death.


The second is to require that the recommendations of coroners in all Australian jurisdictions be responded to by government within three months, with the additional proposal that recommendations by coroners about deaths in custody and the response by government to those recommendations be tabled in the relevant state or territory parliament or assembly. 

PIAC calls for adequate legal aid for the representation of families of the deceased at Inquests and the setting up and funding of a National Coroners Information Clearing House.

The submission also highlights the problem of delays in inquests and calls for enhanced recognition and of the therapeutic role that coroners and inquests performs for families and friends of those who take their own life.

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