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Coronial Council of Victoria

The Coronial Council Secretariat is the first point of contact for all council business.

  • Email coronial.council@justice.vic.gov.au
  • Phone 03 8684 7536
  • Alternative contact 03 8684 0845
  • Postal address C/- The Secretariat
    Level 24, 121 Exhibition Street
    Melbourne VIC 3000

About the Coronial Council

The Coronial Council was established under the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic) and is the first body of its kind in Australia. It is independent from the Victorian Government and the Coroners Court. The council's role is to advise and make recommendations to the Attorney-General on:

  • issues of importance to Victoria's coronial system
  • matters relating to the preventative role played by the Coroners Court (External link)
  • the way in which the coronial system engages with families and respects their cultural diversity, and
  • any other matters relating to the coronial system that are referred to the council by the Attorney-General.

It acts in a way that:

  • does not impinge on the independence of coroners’ professional tasks or the jurisdiction of the State Coroner
  • delivers strategic advice reflecting the changing physical and social environment with the aim of promoting a modern and responsive coronial system
  • strengthens collaboration between agencies across the service system
  • focuses on advice to enhance services to families
  • promotes the prevention role of the coroner
  • ensures that the views of bereaved families are reflected in the development of advice
  • complements existing governance structures in the State coronial system, and
  • promotes transparency, accessibility and accountability regarding the functions of the Victorian coronial system.

Membership

Membership of the Coronial Council is set out in section 111 of the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic). There are three statutory members: the State Coroner, the Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Chief Commissioner of Police.

The Council also comprises an additional five to seven persons appointed by the Governor in Council on recommendation by the Attorney-General. These members are chosen on the basis of merit and for the diversity of experience they bring to the role. This includes an understanding of the issues that affect the coronial jurisdiction, as well as other aspects that intersect with the coronial jurisdiction.

The Council is supported by a Secretariat, provided by the Department of Justice and Regulation.

The current members are:

Professor Katherine McGrath - Chair

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Professor Katherine McGrath was appointed a Member of the Council in February 2010 and as Chair in July 2013. Professor McGrath is a widely respected health care executive with over 30 years’ experience in government, public health, private health, clinical and academic posts. Her previous roles include Deputy Director General of NSW Health and Chief Executive Officer of Hunter Area Health Service.

Judge Sara Hinchey - State Coroner, Coroners Court of Victoria (ex officio)

Member under s111(1)(a)

Judge Sara Hinchey was appointed as a Judge of the County Court in May 2015, following more than 19 years’ experience as a trial and appellate barrister. During this time, she also appeared in the higher courts of Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT, as well as the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia. Her areas of interest include occupational health and safety; corporate crime; construction law; medical and other professional negligence; and professional disciplinary matters.

Professor Noel W F Woodford - Director, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (ex officio)

Member under s111(1)(b)

Professor Noel Woodford was appointed Professor of Forensic Medicine at Monash University and Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) in 2014. After spending time in the UK as consultant pathologist to the Home Office and senior lecturer in forensic pathology at Sheffield University, Professor Woodford returned to Melbourne and became Head of Pathology at VIFM in 2008.

The Chief Commissioner of Police, Victoria Police (ex officio)

Member under s111(1)(c)

This position is held by Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton. Deputy Commissioner Patton has been a member of Victoria Police for over 37 years and in June 2015 was appointed Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations. This position has overall responsibility for the portfolios of Crime, Road Policing, Forensics, Intelligence and Covert Support and Legal Services. Deputy Commissioner Patton has had significant involvement in change management, public order and road safety strategic policy.

Dr Ian Richard Freckelton QC

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Dr Ian Freckelton is a Queen’s Counsel in full-time practice as a barrister. He is a Professorial Fellow in Law and Psychiatry (University of Melbourne), an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Medicine (Monash University), and a member of the Mental Health Tribunal. He is the author of many books (including Death Investigation and the Coroner’s Inquest); editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine; and editor-in-chief of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.

Mr Christopher Hall

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Mr Christopher Hall is a psychologist and the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB). ACGB is a clinical, educational and research organisation, and operates the Statewide Specialist Bereavement Service, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. More broadly, Mr Hall has been Chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement and President of the Association for Death Education and Counselling.

Dr Robert Roseby

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Dr Robert Roseby is a Respiratory (and General) Paediatrician, Head of Medical Specialties and Head of Medical Education at Monash Children’s Hospital, and visiting paediatrician to the Western Suburbs Indigenous Gathering Place. He is a member of the Child and Adolescent Subcommittee of the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity. His previous roles include co-chair of the Board of Inquiry into the NT Child Protection System in 2009-10.

Maria Dimopoulos

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Maria Dimopoulos is a nationally recognised expert specialising in the intersections of diversity, gender equality and the law. Maria brings over 25 years' experience in policy formulation for all tiers of government, research for social planning and in legal education. She is a member of the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity and a Board member for the Castan Centre for Human Rights.

Michele Lewis

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Michele Lewis was appointed as mecwacare’s Chief Executive in 2007. Ms Lewis has over 40 years’ experience in health and aged care, including senior management at clinical and strategic levels within the acute, sub-acute, aged and community sectors. Her areas of interest include governance and risk, consumer choice, financial management, and diversity.

Maryjane Crabtree

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Maryjane was a senior litigation partner at Allens for 23 years, and acted in several high profile coronial inquests. She retired from the partnership in 2016, to give her time to contribute to a range of organisations in the legal, health, education and sporting sectors. Among other positions, she is currently a director of the Law Institute of Victoria, Deputy President of Epworth Healthcare, and a member of the ethics committee of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Reports

Reports to the Attorney-General

The Coronial Council provides advice and recommendations to the Victorian Attorney-General under section 110 of the Coroners Act 2008. Investigations underpinning this process are undertaken either as referred by the Attorney-General, or by 'own-motion', and are known as ‘references’.

Descriptions of references and completed reports are available below:

Annual reports

The Coronial Council is required to submit an annual report on its operations, which is tabled in the Victorian Parliament.

Related organisations and links

Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society

The Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society was formed in 1971 with the aim of bringing together scientists, police, criminalists, pathologists and members of the legal profession actively involved with the forensic sciences. The Society’s objectives are to enhance the quality of forensic science by providing symposia, lectures, discussions and demonstrations encompassing the various disciplines within the science.

Website: anzfss.org/ (External link)
For Victorian Branch information: anzfss.org/vic/ (External link)

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to operate a Statewide Specialist Bereavement Service. Its mission is to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in order to enhance well-being following adverse life events and undertakes a range of clinical, education and research activities.

www.grief.org.au (External link)

Asia Pacific Coroners Society

The Asia Pacific Coroners Society was established to promote the advancement, best practice and education of coronial law and practice. Membership is open to all coroners and to anyone involved in, or associated with, the coronial jurisdiction, such as pathologists, forensic scientists, police investigators, lawyers and grief counsellors. Members of the Society are located in Australia, New Zealand and various nations in the Asia Pacific region.

www.asiapacificcoroners.org/about (External link)

Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University

The Department of Forensic Medicine operates as a department within the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. Its primary function is to advance the discipline of forensic medicine and associated disciplines, both in terms of its training and development of future practitioners and to increase the evidence basis for the discipline through research.

www.med.monash.edu.au/sphpm/dofm.html (External link)

National Coronial Information System

The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) is a data storage, retrieval, analysis, interpretation and dissemination system for coronial information. It enables coroners, their staff, public sector agencies, researchers and other agencies to access coronial data to inform death and injury prevention activities. It contains data about deaths reported to an Australian coroner from July 2000, and to a New Zealand coroner from July 2007, and is an initiative of the Australasian Coroners Society. The NCIS is managed by the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation on behalf of a Board of Management, and is based at the Coronial Services Centre in Southbank, Victoria.

www.ncis.org.au/data-collection/ (External link)

Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is a statutory authority. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Regulation, reporting to Parliament through the Attorney-General.

www.vifm.org/ (External link)

Victoria Police Forensic Services Department

The Victoria Police Forensic Services Department is one of the largest providers of forensic science services in Australia.

www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?Document_ID=695 (External link)

 

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander flags

The department acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and acknowledges and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.