Gillian Triggs says coroners should have greater powers on domestic violence

March 8, 2016

domestic violenceAustralia needs a national monitoring program to ensure that coronial recommendations are implemented by state and territory governments and to get more accurate information about deaths linked to domestic violence, Human Rights Commission president Professor Gillian Triggs has said.

The Human Rights Commission is due to report this month on a review of coronial recommendations, which found many recommendations were not enacted by government agencies.
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 own 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 on Friday.

“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.

“But typically coroners are very frustrated that their recommendations for better police training or whatever it may be are generally ignored,” she said.

Triggs said the Human Rights Commission had spoken to every coroner and their staff in Australia and would lobby the Council of Australian Governments (Coag) to give coroners greater power to have their recommendations enacted.

She also flagged the need for a national coroner to cover the deaths of Australians outside of Australia. To read more click here.

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