Accessing coronial documents

Access for the public

Types of coronial documents

Documents created during the coronial investigation include:

  • police reports - a brief report by police to the coroner at the time of death.
    (Please note: As this report is compiled early at the scene, some details are corrected by the coroner when further information is available)
  • witness statements
  • photographs
  • expert reports
  • autopsy reports - a detailed medical report about the results of the autopsy. It can take up to 18 months for this report to be available
  • toxicology certificates - a certificate with the results of any toxicology tests performed
  • findings - the final report by the coroner after all investigations are completed. The findings detail the cause and circumstances of the death.

The Coroners Act 2003 limits the release of these documents because they contain highly sensitive and very personal information. The coroner releases these documents only if:

  • the person seeking the documents has an appropriate interest in the information (e.g. an immediate family member)
  • it’s in the public interest to do so (e.g. giving information about a dangerous product to the media to inform the public). The coroner consults with the family before releasing the information.

How to apply for access

Applicants can complete the Application for access to coronial documents (PDF, 73.9 KB).

What to include

Provide proof of relationship and proof of identity with your application.

Proof of identity documents may include:

  • full birth certificate (not extract)
  • Australian passport (current or expired within the last two years, but not cancelled)
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate
  • international passport (current or expired within the last two years, but not cancelled)
  • current photo drivers licence
  • current Department of Veterans Affairs Card
  • current Centrelink or Social Security Card
  • 18 plus card.

Proof of relationship documents may include:

  • birth certificate with both parents' detail
  • evidence of Child Support payments.

If the name on your request is different than the name on your identification and proof of relationship documents, provide an acceptable change of name document, including

  • a marriage certificate issued by a registry or celebrant
  • ‘Registration of change of name’ issued by a Births, Deaths and Marriages registry
  • divorce papers
  • deed poll.

These documents don’t need to be certified but must be attached to your request.

Where to apply

If the coronial investigation is still in progress, send your application to the investigating coroner. Contact the Coroners Court if you’re unsure who the investigating coroner is.

If the coronial investigation has been finalised, send your application to the Coroners Court of Queensland.

Fees may apply for copies of documents.

How long will my application take to process

If your request relates to a coronial investigation that has been finalised, please allow up to 5 weeks to process your application. First priority is given to requests where the matter is currently before the Coroner. Matters older than 9 years and under 36 years can take longer to process as manual searches of the coronial archives may be needed.

It may be necessary to consult with the senior next of kin before documents can be released. Where concerns are raised we must consider those concerns which may extend the time-frame.

When coronial files are over 36 years old

Closed coronial files are periodically transferred to the Queensland State Archives once they’re more than 36 years old. If you need to access documents on a coronial file, where the death occurred more than 36 years ago, you should contact the Queensland State Archives for assistance.

Access for researchers

National Coroners Information System

Australia has a national internet-based data storage and retrieval system for coronial cases—the National Coroners Information System (NCIS). The NCIS stores information about deaths reported to Queensland coroners since 2001.

Approved research and government agencies can use this valuable research tool. If the information the NCIS provides is insufficient or you can’t access it, apply directly to the state coroner to access coronial documents for research purposes.

Release of these coronial documents is restricted because they’re sensitive and private. The state coroner can consent to release the documents if you’re a ‘genuine researcher’ and the documents are reasonably necessary for your research.

How to apply for access

To apply to be a genuine researcher, contact the Coroners Court for an application form. Provide enough information so the state coroner can decide whether you’re a ‘genuine researcher’ and the coronial documents are necessary for your research.

Include information about:

  • your professional/educational qualifications
  • the research project
  • any ethics approval for the research project
  • the background and aims of your organisation.