The appointment of a permanent coroner in the ACT will be an opportunity to create a contemporary coronial system focused on reform, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury says.
"There is real aspiration in the feedback we've had from both families but also professionals who work in the space - be it police, lawyers, and others - that we can build a better coronial system here in the ACT, and having a dedicated person means they can focus on that," Mr Rattenbury said.
The upcoming ACT budget will include $3.2 million over four years to fund a dedicated coroner and support staff, a move welcomed by Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker.
"This will provide an opportunity to develop a more structured and streamlined approach to the jurisdiction, with an anticipated improvement in efficiency," Ms Walker said.
"It will also allow for the important therapeutic and public safety functions provided for in legislation to be developed in a manner consistent with current best practice."
Ms Walker has repeatedly called for a dedicated coroner for the territory, to replace the current system where magistrates rotate through the role while also continuing to undertake their usual responsibilities.
The ACT will also spend $432,00 in 2021-22 for an extra full-time special magistrate and support staff to reduce a backlog predominantly made up of criminal matters.
The budget also earmarks $206,000 in 2021-22 for extra staff within the Director Public Prosecutions and Legal Aid.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said appointing a dedicated coroner in the ACT would be a significant change to the current model, which split the work between eight different magistrates.
"A dedicated coroner can better understand and meet the needs of the bereaved families and friends involved in inquests by providing better support and reducing the likelihood of them suffering more trauma through a protracted coronial process," Mr Barr said.
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Mr Rattenbury said the appointment of a dedicated coroner would take a couple of months, but he had already discussed the process with Ms Walker.
"We'll have a full open recruitment process. Who comes forward remains to be seen, but for me the most important factor is looking for someone who has a passion for building a coronial practice here in the ACT," he said.
"There's no criticism of our existing magistrates. I think it's very challenging for them to basically, on a weekly rotating basis, be the coroner. So the strength of having someone come into this role is - we're looking for someone who's really passionate about it, who wants to be involved in coronial reform.
"We think there is a range of improvements that can be made and we're also looking to build a more restorative system."
The ACT Greens took a commitment to appoint a dedicated coroner to the 2020 ACT election, and agreed to explore the establishment of a full-time coroners court in its governing agreement with ACT Labor.
The ACT government in 2019 proposed nine coronial reforms under then-attorney-general Gordon Ramsay, but stopped short at the time of committing to a dedicated coroner.
The ACT Law Society in March said top lawyers from other ACT government directorates had been seconded to help with the workload, but a dedicated coroner would be needed to clear the backlog.
Some matters have taken more than five years for findings to be made.
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