Last updated on 20 January 2022
Any person who becomes aware of a reportable death, and does not reasonably believe that the death has already been reported, must immediately report it to a police officer or coroner (ss 7(1), (3) Coroners Act 2003 (Qld) (Coroners Act)). Failure to report a reportable death is an offence under the Coroners Act and is punishable by 25 penalty units (for the current value of one penalty unit see r 3 Penalties and Sentences Regulation 2015 (Qld)).
If a death happens in care, the service provider must report the death, even if they believe that someone else has already reported it.
The way in which a reportable death should be reported depends on the category of the reportable death.
Violent or otherwise unnatural deaths
Violent or otherwise unnatural deaths (other than those from mechanical falls) should be reported to police. Police will then submit a Form 1 to the coroner who is in charge of the area where the death occurred. The completed Form 1 will also be sent to the Coroners Court so that the Register of Deaths can be updated. This register contains information about all reported deaths, including the date on which the death was reported and the findings of the investigation (s 92 Coroners Act).
Health-care-related deaths and deaths in care
If the death is a health-care-related death, a death from injuries sustained in a mechanical fall or a death from natural causes in care, medical practitioners should report the death directly to coroner using a Form 1A. The coroner will conduct a preliminary investigation to decide whether the death is a reportable death and if so, whether a cause-of-death certificate should be issued or whether further investigations, such as an autopsy, should be conducted.
Death in custody or in the course of police operations
If the reportable death is a death in custody or occurred in the course of police operations, it must be reported directly to the State Coroner or the Deputy State Coroner (s 7(3) Coroners Act).
In cases where multiple deaths have occurred, such as in car accidents, natural disasters or as a result of terrorism, the initial Police Report of Death to a Coroner (Form 1B Disaster Victim Identification Squad use only) describing preliminary information about the incident must be reported to the coroner. Once all of the victims are identified, a Police Report of Death to a Coroner (Form 1) is completed by police and submitted to the coroner.