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​Coroners should have greater powers on domestic violence

Graphic: Professor Gillian Triggs

The Australian Human Rights Commission is studying the extent to which coronial recommendations are implemented by government.

Australia needs a national monitoring program to ensure that coronial recommendations are implemented by governments, according to Australian Human Rights Commission President Professor Gillian Triggs.

This would also provide more accurate information about deaths linked to domestic violence, The Guardian reported.

A study of coronial recommendations by the Commission found that many recommendations were not enacted by state and territory government agencies.

The Commission is due to report on its findings by the end of the month, The Guardian noted.

Professor Triggs said the statistics around deaths caused by domestic violence were "very, very shaky," and coroner's courts may be the best source of that information. At present, however, that information is not consolidated across jurisdictions.

According to the Commission's figures, 78 women died as the result of domestic violence in Australia in 2015.

"It seems fairly clear that the people who know most about how and why [these cases] occur are the coroners, because they tend to look at the facts that lead to this incident," Triggs told a forum on domestic violence in Melbourne.

"We became aware at the Human Rights Commission that coroners will close the case, they will report to government, as they are legally required to do, and those recommendations may go into an annual report," she said.

"But typically coroners are very frustrated that their recommendations for better police training or whatever it may be are generally ignored."

The Commission has spoken to every coroner in Australia and would lobby the Council of Australian Governments to give coroners greater power to have their recommendations enacted, The Guardian reported.

Professor Triggs also flagged the need for a national coroner to examine the deaths of Australians outside of Australia.

More information on the Commission's work to support coronial investigations into domestic/family violence deaths is available on its website.

Date: 4 March 2016

Source: The Guardian

Image credits

  1. Professor Gillian Triggs - Australian Human Rights Commission