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, South Australia and the Northern Territory. 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. Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are currently developing strategies to have formal DV death review processes in place.
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.
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 220 reviews have been conducted and there have been eight Coronial Inquests with a domestic violence context. To date, coronial findings and 43 recommendations relating to domestic violence systems improvement have been released for the following eight Inquests:
- Chloe Lee Valentine
- Zahra Abrahimzadeh
- Shane Robinson
- Jakob and David Wyatt
- Robyn Hayward and Edwin Durance
- Jeremy Harding-Roots
- Ebony Napier
- Deborah McKenzie
The Coronial Domestic Violence Information System (CDVIS) has been operational since May 2015. The CDVIS incorporates over 120 different perpetrator and victim-specific variables and provides the capacity to record data and track trends. The unique nature of the data housed in the CDVIS will support evidence-based decision making in policies and programs to reduce violence against women and their children.
Preliminary prevalence data from the CDVIS is reported in the South Australian State Coroners’ 2015-16 Annual Report, as tabled in South Australian Parliament.
Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network Data Report 2018
The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network was established in 2011 as an initiative of state and territory death review processes, and is endorsed by all state and territory Coroners and the Western Australian Ombudsman. The Network’s goals include producing national data concerning domestic and family violence related homicides in accordance with the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2009-2021. With this work the Network seeks to contribute to the formation of evidence-based policy and decision making in relation to domestic and family violence, enhancing opportunities for prevention and intervention and contributing to the enhanced safety of women and their children across Australia.
The Network has published its first report in 2018 which can be accessed here.
Relevant South Australian legislation
- Coroner's Act 2003
- Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009
- Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935
- Evidence Act 1929