1167. Hon ALISON XAMON to the Leader of the House representing the Attorney General:

I refer to the appointment of an additional coroner at 0.5 FTE for 2019–20 and to the backlog of 497 coronial cases at 30 June 2020, an increase of 39 cases compared with 2019.

(1)  Given the still increasing backlog, will the government continue to fund the extra judicial resource?

(2)  If no to (1), why not?

(3)  Does the Attorney General anticipate that the backlog in outstanding inquest cases will continue to rise over 2020–21?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1)–(3) The figure of 497 coronial cases includes both inquests and administrative findings. There has been no increase in the backlog of inquest cases. The backlog of inquests as at the end of 2019–20 was 109 and has since come down to 99 cases as at September 2020—the lowest level in the past three financial years, after 100 in 2018–19 and 128 in 2017–18.

To address the backlog of coronial cases, an additional temporary coroner was appointed for six months in early January 2019 and non-recurrent funding was also provided specifically for former Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker to be appointed for 12 months on a 0.5 full-time equivalent basis to complete investigations into 44 long-term missing persons. Although the overall backlog of coronial cases increased by 39 compared with 2019–20, the growth in lodgements during this period was 125, and the number of finalisations increased by 433. The funding of the Coroner’s Court of Western Australia is continuously monitored; however, it is anticipated that while the number of finalisations continues to outstrip the number of lodgements, the backlog will reduce over time.


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