‘Failing’ coronial system hurts Southern Downs families
QUEENSLAND coronial services are failing grieving families due to a system “under stress”, according to Member for Southern Downs James Lister.
The politician is leading the charge for the State Government to take up recommendations made by the Queensland Audit Office in a 2018 review.
According to the report, senior officials described the system as “failing” and that if problems were left unaddressed they could “further erode its ability to provide services beyond the short term”.
As deputy chairman for the audit review, Mr Lister said the coroner’s role was to ensure families could find closure after a loved ones’ death but that an under resourced system was stalling that process.
“The coroners’ workload has increased. The demand into inquests and investigations into deaths had risen, Mr Lister said.
“The coroner is supported by three areas, and that is forensic services, police, and the department of health, but there are no clearly defined lines of accountability. They all do the best they can, but it’s still not ideal.”
With no agency clearly responsible for leadership and planning, Mr Lister also said that the number of families left waiting for the coroner’s court had increased.
“The number of cases where families are waiting two or more years has increased by 11—17 per cent,” he said.
“I’m concerned that affects everyday people who have faced tragic circumstances and shouldn’t have to wait.”
One such family was that of Jodie Locke’s.
On Thursday, Mr Lister read out a statement from Mrs Locke to parliament.
“This process is essential to provide answers and some form of closure for family members. “The family would like answers and would like transparency and accountability to be upheld,” Mr Lister read on the behalf of Mrs Locke.
“A death which family members believe could have been prevented takes a big psychological toll on the family.
“Having a coroner find out what happened and why is so important to helping provide peace to those who are left behind and to making sure it won’t happen again to someone else.”
While discussions were continuing in parliament, Mr Lister urged the government to take on the reforms and more.
“Whilst the recommendations to do with reforms of the coronial system are along the lines of accountability, it requires money,” he said.
“To make sure coroners are efficient, they need the best resourcing possible to stop the growth.”