Last updated January 2022

Throughout the coronial process, your rights under the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) must be taken into account. The Human Rights Act provides statutory protection for 23 separate human rights in Queensland. These include rights against discrimination, the right to life, the right to be treated humanely when deprived of liberty, the right to a fair hearing and the right not to be refused emergency medical treatment to name a few (ss 15, 16, 30, 31, 37 Human Rights Act). These rights may be engaged in coronial proceedings where a death involves a public entity and has occurred in care, custody or is otherwise a reportable death (s 30 Coroners Act 2003 (Qld) (Coroners Act)).

Importantly, coroners are required to act compatibly with the Human Rights Act when exercising their autopsy, investigation and inquest functions, and may, at times, be called upon to interpret the nature and scope of the protected human rights (for more information on the scope of the inquest (see Kracke v Mental Health Review Board [2009] VCAT 646). A coroner may also consider whether human rights breaches may have caused or contributed to a person’s death (see Coroners Court of Victoria, Ruling on Application regarding the Scope of the Inquest into the death of Tanya Louise Day (2019) 2017/6424).