ACT Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker has renewed calls for a dedicated coroner for the capital ahead of the budget in August.
The chief coroner said the current system of rotating coroners meant time-poor magistrates were stretched as they juggled other matters concurrently.
Additionally, magistrates temporarily appointed to the position were unable to establish the consistency and expertise a full-time coroner would have, Ms Walker said.
Advocates for reform of the coroner's court have criticised the lack of consultation with families, the time it takes for proceedings to get under way and the seriousness in which coroner's recommendations were adopted.
A supporter of restorative justice as a means to involve families, Ms Walker said a dedicated coroner would help reduce wait times and the varied speed at which recommendations were introduced.
"Sometimes we can write even before a matter is formalised to advise government it's a problem and it's fixed instantly," Ms Walker said.
"Other times problems are not fixed so readily and recommendations of course are only that, they're not binding on government and government might have other considerations as well."
Responding to whether the team of four full-time staff and two temporary staff were over-stretched trying to work through the backlog of cases, Ms Walker said more resources were welcome.
"In terms of what's needed going forward, we're looking at that internally but it in part depends on what the government seeks to have in place in respect to a coroner," Ms Walker said.
The team includes a counsel-assisting role, a family liaison officer and two admin support staff. Two lawyers have been seconded from other departments for six months in an attempt to speed up the coronial process for families.
Families of the four Canberra Hospital patients who died by suicide in 2015 and 2016 waited five and six years respectively for the recent inquest into their deaths at the facility's mental health unit.
Ms Walker said with a dedicated coroner the resourcing needs would change as staff would answer to one person, instead of seven or eight magistrates.
The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia without a dedicated coroner. ACT Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury has previously confirmed the constraint of the current budget.
Ms Walker said while she couldn't speak for the rest of the judiciary, it was her understanding a dedicated coroner had broad support. She said it was unlikely she would put her hand up for the position, should a dedicated coroner be budgeted for in August.
"I've already had very close involvement with coronial work and it's work that I really value," Ms Walker said.
"The difficulty for me would be balancing that with my role as chief magistrate and I'd have to be very careful in contemplating taking on something like that, that I wasn't taking away from my other responsibilities."
Ms Walker said her experience as a judicial officer had taught her the value of restorative practice in whatever jurisdiction in whatever way it could be achieved.
John Hinchey worked in the ACT criminal justice system for close to 25 years in corrective services and restorative justice.
Mr Hinchey said he became aware of the need for a review of the coroner's act in 2008 when the Department of Community Safety released a discussion paper on the options for reform of the system.
"As the victims of crime commissioner I came across people who slipped through the cracks of our justice system and didn't have a voice," Mr Hinchey said.
"Some of those people are the bereaved families of deceased people of which a coronial inquiry is conducted and it was frustrating for me. It struck me that no one speaks for these people."
Mr Hinchey said he spent six years establishing the restorative justice scheme in the ACT. He said one of the best examples of restorative justice in the ACT was the Galambany Circle Sentencing process.
The Circle Sentencing Court aims to provide a culturally relevant sentencing option in the ACT Magistrates Court for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Circle Court Magistrate sits alongside panel members and Elders who are invited by the magistrate to contribute to the sentencing process, explaining culturally relevant details to the court and working with the defendant to avoid reoffending.
Mr Hinchey said while this model clearly could not be directly applied to a coroner's court reform, the key principle of increased involvement of those with the most knowledge and those who were most invested could be applied.
"One of the objects of the coroner's act is that where appropriate members of the immediate members of the deceased's family should be given the opportunity to participate in and be kept informed of the particulars and progress of the inquest into the person's death," he said.
"Well that doesn't happen in a routine matter and one of the reasons is that we've got seven or eight different coroners and they all bring their own idea of what a coroner is.
"If we're going to rely on a coronial inquiry to address the major problems which exist in our mental health system - not just in the ACT but across the country - better participation from bereaved families will help inform greater improvements and getting to the nub of the issues. After all, they've lived with the problems."
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