Coroners investigate the causes and circumstances of reported deaths. In their findings, they may recommend that governments and other relevant parties make changes to their procedures and practices to prevent avoidable deaths. These recommendations can make important contributions to public policy and legislation development. They can facilitate reforms in areas like the health system, aged care and disability service provision, policing, corrections, and public health and safety. They can also help address such human rights issues as deaths in custody.
But despite their value, current access to coronial findings and recommendations and responses to them is not ideal. There are approximately 7,500 coronial findings online. Some responses to the recommendations are also available online. However, the number of these readily accessible responses is limited, and the responses are not always clearly linked to the recommendations they are addressing.
This project will provide free, digital access to coronial findings and recommendations from all Australian jurisdictions at one location on AustLII. It will also gather responses made by relevant agencies and link them to the recommendations they are addressing. Some of the earlier findings with recommendations existing only in paper form will be digitised and added to the collection. These resources will be made searchable and cross-indexed to the relevant legislation and case law through citation mining.
The project will seek to:
- secure cross-jurisdictional agreements to enable the sharing and aggregation of coronial findings across all states and territories
- expand the national data asset to include non-published coronial responses and recommendations as well as published ones
- digitise legacy, paper-based coronial findings where available
- persistently deliver and provide access to coronial findings by establishing sustainable data pipelines between coronial courts and AustLII
- build an Australian Coronial Library and its linked databases to make them available for free access online.
At the heart of this project will be strong community support and involvement in answering some of the more difficult questions our sector faces. It will enable discussions and sharing of ideas among a wide range of stakeholders and shape a national research data commons.
Who Will Benefit
This project will benefit:
- peak bodies
- research organisations
- infrastructure providers
- commercial infrastructure providers
- governments (state, territory, and Commonwealth)
- legal professionals and the judiciary.
- University of New South Wales
- University of Technology Sydney
- Curtin University
- Coroners Court of Victoria
- Coroners Court of New South Wales
- Coroners Court of Queensland
- Coroners Court of South Australia
- Coroners Court of Western Australia
- Magistrates Court of Tasmania
- ACT Magistrates Court
- NT Coroners Office
This project created the Australian Coronial Law Library, which provides an easy and accessible way to search for coronial findings and recommendations, which can make substantial contributions to public policy and legislation development, academic research, and much more.
Having coronial findings with the recommendations on AustLII will allow better integration of the coronial process with the wider legal ecosystem – with both legislative and case law frameworks in all Australian jurisdictions, with the existing legal scholarship on AustLII, and with Australia’s treaty obligations. Transforming and improving the ways investigations are conducted will lead to more comprehensive and informed responses to findings and recommendations.
The potential use of this data, which can be a key input into evidence-based government policy, extends far beyond the legal community. Indeed, the data may be important to all the people affected by the outcomes of coronial proceedings and to all the communities responsible for protecting lives and keeping their work transparent. Furthermore, it can help build a civil society by promoting the understanding of the coronial process and how it delivers justice.