Coroners Office


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Coroner's Office

What is the Role of a Coroner?
Who Reports a Death to the Coroner?
What is a "Reportable" Death?
Who is the "Senior Next of Kin"?
What is an Autopsy?
Are Autopsy Reports Available to Relatives?
When can Funeral Arrangements be made?
What is an Inquest?
Is an Inquest Open to the Public?
Can a Relative Request an Inquest?
Who May Receive the Coroner`s Findings?
How a Death Certificate is Obtained
Contact

What is the Role of a Coroner?

The Coroner's role is governed by the Coroner's Act.

The Territory Coroner oversees and coordinates all coronial services throughout the Northern Territory and ensures, on behalf of the community, that all deaths and suspected deaths over which a coroner has jurisdiction are thoroughly investigated.

The Coroner will enquire into the circumstances surrounding all "reportable" deaths and:

As well as deaths, a Coroner may inquire into disasters where public safety is substantially endangered.

Who Reports a Death to the Coroner?

Usually a police officer or medical practitioner will notify the Coroner of any death that may be a reportable death; however, every person has a duty to do so if they believe the Coroner may not have been informed.

Failure to do so, or failing to provide any information about a death, are offences.
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What is a "Reportable" Death?

A death MUST be reported to the Coroner if it is a death:

Who is the "Senior Next of Kin"?

The "senior next of kin" is:

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What is an Autopsy?

An autopsy is a detailed form of medical inspection of the body, performed by a Forensic Pathologist, to determine the presence, nature and extent of any disease or damage in order to ascertain the cause of death.

Samples of blood and tissue will be taken for analysis. In some cases, the Coroner may require whole organs to be retained for a more thorough examination or specialist testing. If this is necessary the senior next of kin will be advised by the Coroner's office.

It is usual for an autopsy to be performed in all coronial cases. Should the senior next of kin of the deceased object to an autopsy being performed, the Coroner will advise the senior next of kin, in writing of the decision to order an autopsy. Where possible, the autopsy will be delayed for 48 hours, within which time the senior next of kin may make application to the Supreme Court for the autopsy not to be performed.

Are Autopsy Reports Available to Relatives?

Due to the complexity of these reports, they are easily misinterpreted and can cause great distress. They are not generally provided directly to bereaved persons; however, if requested in writing a copy may be provided to the senior next of kin's nominated medical practitioner who will be able to explain and discuss any complex medical information.

When can Funeral Arrangements be made?

The family or senior next of kin should appoint a Funeral Director as soon as possible after the death, to liaise with the Coroner's Office regarding release of the body.

What is an Inquest?

All reportable deaths must be investigated, however, most reportable deaths do not result in the Coroner conducting an Inquest. An Inquest is a court hearing in which the Coroner hears evidence to assist in determining the manner and cause of a death. The Coroner may summons witnesses to give evidence of what they know about a death. Failure to appear if summonsed may lead to an arrest.

Where a Coroner is satisfied, upon consideration of the police and medical reports, that the manner and cause of death can be determined and that further investigation would be unlikely to disclose any additional evidence, the Coroner may dispense with holding an inquest.

Inquests must be conducted where death has occurred in care or custody.
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Is an Inquest Open to the Public?

Yes, any person may attend and listen to the proceedings. In certain circumstances, the Coroner may exclude individuals or the public generally and prohibit the publication of evidence.

Can a Relative Request an Inquest?

A request in writing, setting out the reasons why an inquest should be held, must be made to the Coroner. If the Coroner refuses the application, a further application may be made to the Supreme Court.

THE CORONER DOES NOT DETERMINE ISSUES OF CRIMINAL LIABILITY OR CIVIL NEGLIGENCE.

Who May Receive the Coroner`s Findings?

The senior next of kin will receive a copy of the Coroner's findings whether an inquest is held or not.

Other persons may request the findings, which will be made available if the Coroner decides it is appropriate.

How a Death Certificate is Obtained

A certificate is issued after the Coroner has determined the manner and cause of death. Death Certificates are available from the Registrar of Births, Death and Marriages in Darwin (08) 8999 6187 or Alice Springs (08) 8951 5338.

For Further Information, Contact:

The Coroner's Office

Magistrate Courts
Nichols Place
Cnr Cavanagh Street and Harry Chan Avenue
DARWIN NT 0800

Telephone: (08) 8999 7770
Fax: (08) 8999 5128
Postal Address:
GPO Box 1281
DARWIN NT 0801

 

 

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