The Coroners Court of Victoria is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and following State and Commonwealth government advice.
Thursday 30 April 2020
The Coroners Court of Victoria has published a new practice direction regarding recent changes to court hearings in response to COVID-19.
Coronial hearings will continue to be held remotely via technology wherever feasible. However, to ensure the effective and timely conduct of proceedings, Victorian State Coroner, Judge Cain has directed that beginning 30 April 2020:
- some court hearings that require the physical presence of persons at the Coroners Court may be scheduled, providing strict adherence to distancing advice from State and Federal governments is observed.
- inquests that were previously adjourned to a date to be fixed will now be rescheduled on a case by case basis.
The health and wellbeing of Court users and staff is the highest priority and hearings that require physical attendance will only be scheduled when necessary.
The Coroners Court is open and continues to actively investigate all cases. Coroners and staff are working in accordance with the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 and remain committed to serving the community at this difficult time.
For more information please read Practice Direction 2 of 2020.
This practice direction supersedes Practice Direction 1 of 2020.
Friday 27 March 2020
In line with government restrictions, Victorian State Coroner, Judge Cain, has directed that no hearing which requires the physical attendance of any person at the Coroners Court will proceed.
Inquest Findings, Summary Inquests, Direction Hearings and Mention Hearings will be facilitated through technology.
Inquests are adjourned to a date to be fixed. Adjourned inquests will be rescheduled in line with government guidelines, but not before 31 May 2020.
The Coroners Court remains open and continues to actively investigate all cases. Coroners and staff are working in accordance with the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 and remain committed to the timely and efficient conduct of proceedings and to serving the community at this difficult time.
For further information please read Practice Direction 1 of 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Response.
When a COVID-19 death should be reported to the coroner
The Coroners Court of Victoria investigates all deaths that are reportable. Of the approximately 40,000 Victorians who die every year, only 6500-7000 of those deaths are reportable. The Coroners Court of Victoria will generally be treating deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19 as arising from natural causes, similar to individuals who die from the flu. Therefore, in general, these deaths do not need to be reported to the coroner. The treating doctor in such circumstances should complete a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (death certificate).
However, there may be another reason to report a death to the coroner where the deceased had COVID-19. For example, a death should be reported to the coroner if a person is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and their death is unnatural or violent or has resulted, directly or indirectly, from an accident or injury, or the person was in custody or care. These deaths will continue to be investigated like any other reportable death. Where the cause of death is unknown and no death certificate is issued by a treating doctor, the death will be considered reportable. Enquiries will be made in relation to recent travel and health history, including the onset of any flu-like symptoms in the lead-up to the death.
If those in Victoria with reporting obligations require advice regarding the reportability of a death, they should contact staff at Coronial Admissions & Enquiries at VIFM on 1300 008 436.