Queensland Government response to coronial recommendations

The role of the coroner

Coroners—usually magistrates in your community—investigate deaths that are ‘unnatural’ such as:

  • accidents, suicides or homicides
  • deaths that have occurred in prison or in care, or
  • deaths that have unknown causes.

A coroner will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death to find out the identity of the deceased person, when and where they died, how they died and the medical cause of death.

The purpose of an inquest

The coroner may decide to hold an inquest to gather more information about the cause and circumstances of a death. An inquest is a public hearing before the coroner where witnesses are called to give evidence.

An inquest must be held in certain circumstances (e.g. if the death is in custody). In other cases, the coroner might decide to hold an inquest if it is in the public interest (e.g. where there is significant doubt about the facts or if holding an inquest might help prevent future deaths).

Coroners can make recommendations

If a coroner decides to hold an inquest, the coroner may comment on anything connected with a death that relates to public health or safety, the administration of justice, or ways to prevent deaths from happening in similar circumstances in the future. Comments and recommendations can—and often are—directed to the government.

The Queensland Government responds to recommendations made at inquests

From 2008 to 2012, the Queensland Government's response to coronial recommendations annual reports were made during the relevant reporting year.

Responses to recommendations handed down after 2012 are posted on the Queensland Courts website next to the findings of inquest. The government aims to publish a response to recommendations within 6 months of the coroners' findings of inquest and to provide implementation updates twice a year until the recommendation is implemented (or a decision is made not to support the recommendation).

Guidelines to help government departments respond to coronial recommendations are available by emailing the Legal Services Coordination Unit at lscu@justice.qld.gov.au.