Coroner's research position
In Australia (to date) there are domestic violence (DV) death review processes embedded within Coronial jurisdictions and subsequent legislation in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. In all jurisdictions, except New South Wales, open Coronial cases involving domestic violence deaths are in scope of the reviews. In Western Australia these reviews are conducted through the Office of the Ombudsman.
In response to election commitments made by the South Australian Government, the Office for Women and the SA Coroner's Court has established a partnership to research and investigate domestic violence related deaths. The position of Senior Research Officer (Domestic Violence) has been in place since January 2011.
As a specific initiative of the first phase of SA's Women's Safety Strategy and a continuing commitment under the second phase of A Right to Safety, this position reports on outcomes to the Chief Executive Group (chaired by the Minister for the Status of Women) that oversights this reform agenda and works collaboratively with the reporting and advisory structure to advance the key direction areas of A Right to Safety as well as input into the implementation of The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.
This position is based within the South Australian Coroner's Office and works as part of the Coronial investigation team to:
- Identify deaths with a domestic violence context, to assist in the investigation of the adequacy of system responses and/or inter-agency approaches which may assist in the prevention of deaths which occur within that context.
- Review files, provide interim reports and have specific input into Coronial Inquests which relate to domestic violence.
- Develop data collection systems which can provide advice to Coronial processes and identify demographic or service trends, gaps or improvements more broadly.
- Conduct specific retrospective research projects relevant to building Domestic violence death review evidence base.
The scope of the review includes single fatality homicide, single fatality suicides and multiple fatality (e.g. homicide-suicide) incidents where there is a context of domestic or family violence. An investigation framework underpins the process of information gathering and decision making in the progression of coronial investigations.
The review of deaths with a domestic violence context is an ongoing process, however, it should be noted that not all reviews result in a Coronial Inquest. To date over 150 reviews have been conducted and there have been five Coronial Inquests with a domestic violence context. To date, coronial findings and 37 recommendations relating to domestic violence systems improvement have been released for the following seven Inquests:
- Chloe Lee Valentine
- Zara Abrahimzadeh
- Shane Robinson
- Jakob and David Wyatt
- Robyn Hayward and Edwin Durance
- Jeremy Harding-Roots
- Ebony Napier
- Deborah McKenzie
At a National level, The National Family Domestic Violence Death Review Network was established in April 2011.
Relevant South Australian legislation
- Coroner's Act 2003
- Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
- Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935
- Evidence Act 1929