Last updated 20 January 2022
The coronial processes in Queensland are facilitated by our State Coroner and Deputy State Coroner, as well as a number of other coroners and coronial registrars. These coroners and registrars work together to ensure that the coronial system runs smoothly, both in and out of court, and appropriately involves the family of the deceased.
There are currently seven full-time coroners located in Brisbane, Cairns, Mackay and Southport. Queensland Courts publishes a list of coroners and coronial registrars in Queensland and their respective geographical areas of responsibility.
In addition, every magistrate in Queensland is also a coroner (a ‘local coroner’) and acts in that capacity when needed.
Coroners are responsible for:
- investigating reportable deaths to determine the deceased’s identity, as well as the circumstances and cause of the death
- presiding over inquests
- making findings and preventative comments to avoid similar deaths in the future.
The State Coroner is a magistrate appointed for an initial term of five years to (ss 70, 71(1) Coroners Act 2003 (Qld) (Coroners Act)):
- oversee, coordinate and ensure efficient operation of the coronial system
- ensure that reported deaths are investigated to an appropriate extent
- ensure that coronial inquests are held when required
- have responsibility, together with the Deputy State Coroner, for all investigations into deaths in custody and deaths that happened as a result of police operations
- issue directions and guidelines about the investigation of reportable deaths.
Deputy State Coroner
The Deputy State Coroner is a magistrate appointed for an initial term of five years who, in addition to the functions of a magistrate and coroner, also investigates deaths in custody and deaths as a result of police operations. They also act as the State Coroner when required.
The Deputy State Coroner is currently located in Southport and investigates deaths in South East Queensland including the Gold Coast, Beenleigh and Logan.
Coronial registrars and deputy coronial registrars
The coronial registrars are located in Brisbane and are appointed to assist the coroners by:
- investigating deaths reported to police where a cause-of-death certificate has not been issued
- reviewing potentially reportable deaths reported directly by medical practitioners or funeral directors.
Each clerk of the court (other than a police officer) is automatically a deputy registrar, as are other persons specifically appointed to the role (s 85(2) Coroners Act).
The State Coroner, or another coroner with the State Coroner’s approval, may delegate some of their powers (e.g. the power to permit cremation or consent to tissue removal) to a registrar or an appropriately qualified deputy registrar (s 86 Coroners Act). The power to conduct an inquest cannot be delegated.