Western Australia: an opportunity to take the lead on coronial law reform Alternative formats available on request to PIAC - Contact PIAC
The Western Australian (WA) Law Reform Commission’s Discussion Paper is released as part of its Review of Coronial Practice in Western Australia.
In this submission, PIAC addresses only some of the many specific proposals and questions posed by the Discussion Paper. The submission firstly addresses five areas that PIAC considers are essential reforms for Australian coronial law and practice.
The five areas are: –
- Clarifying and strengthening the coroner’s role in prevention PIAC submits there should be legislative provisions to clarify beyond doubt that making recommendations by Coroners with the aim of preventing similar deaths occurring in future is one of the primary purposes of inquests
- Ensuring that governments listen to and respond to the recommendations of coroners PIAC submits that there should be in all Australian jurisdictions, legislation that mandates a timely public government response to recommendations by Coroners and that there should be a mandatory tabling in Parliament of recommendations and the consequent Government response, in all cases of deaths in custody and where there is a death in police presence
- The importance of accessible legal representation of families at inquests
- The need for support for and liaison with families in inquests
- The need for independent investigation of deaths in custody or deaths where there is a police presence.
The submission then deals with three specific proposals made in the Discussion Paper:
- Support for enhanced objects of the Coroners Act, in particular in relation to preventable deaths
- Support for written guidance for coroners in exercising their discretion on when an inquest should be held
- Support specialist health care-related death investigation team.