NSW coronial reform “grossly inadequate”

Last Updated on 07/11/2022 by National Justice Project

Media release: 03/11/22

The National Justice Project has criticised the NSW Government response to a parliamentary inquiry on reform of the coronial system, describing the commitments as grossly inadequate. 

Despite calls from legal professionals and human rights advocates for coroners to consider systemic factors which may contribute to a death, experts say that the government response only delays meaningful reform for another day.

George Newhouse, CEO and Principal Solicitor of the National Justice Project, said that while the commitment to a culturally-safe coronial system is welcome, overall, the NSW Government response is disappointing: 

Image of NSW Coroner's Court plaque

“Why doesn’t the NSW Government want coroners to expose systemic discrimination in policing, prisons and healthcare? Because they don’t want to accept responsibility, and they don’t want the system to change.” [See response to recommendation 12] 

“Common sense says that coroners should use their powers of investigation to prevent deaths – yet the NSW Government has ruled out even this simple recommendation to stop more needless deaths.” [See response to recommendation 16] 

“The NSW Government’s commitments will come as a disappointment to many families who are seeking answers about the death of their loved ones. All this does is protect governments from scrutiny.”  

George Newhouse

“Grieving families deserve better. They deserve a coronial system that can deliver justice through truth, accountability and prevention.” 

The National Justice Project – a human rights law firm that drives policy reform through coronial inquests to uncover the truth and establish accountability – welcomes the positive steps that the NSW Government has taken this year in appointing Aboriginal Liaison Officers in the NSW Coroner’s Court. 

In its submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Coronial Jurisdiction, the National Justice Project called for the implementation of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, an independent investigative body into First Nations deaths in custody, the appointment of First Nations coroners, and the participation of First Nations communities in reforming the coronial system.