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Of the 128 500 people who die in Australia every year, only 13.4% of deaths are referred on to the coroner's office and even fewer will require a coronial investigation and autopsy. Not all deaths need to be investigated. There are a variety of reasons why a death might be reported to the coroner.
Reportable deaths are deaths that are referred to the coroner for investigation. There are many instances when a death will be reported to the coroner and there doesn't necessarily have to be anything suspicious about a death for it to be reported. Although the legislation is slightly different in each Australian state generally a death must be reported to the coroner if the person:
- died unexpectedly
- died and had not seen a doctor in the last three months
- died from an accident or injury
- died in a violent or unnatural way
- died as a result of an anaesthetic or within 24 hours of an anaesthetic
- was unidentified
- died while in state care - ie. in a prison / mental institution / or while in child protection
For more information, check with the coroner's court in your state or read the specific legislation for each state.
Even though 128,500 Australians die each year, only a relatively small percentage (10.5%) will end up needing to have an autopsy.
Approximately 22, 400 people die in Queensland each year. Brisbane has one main coronial facility, and approximately 600 - 700 deaths per year are reported to the coroner - all of these have full autopsies. Queensland does not have a state coroner - so all magistrates have the authority to act as the coroner and conduct an inquest.
New South Wales
Approximately 45, 400 people die each year in New South Wales. Sydney has three major coronial facilities, and approximately 6,000 deaths per year are reported to the coroner - of these approximately 90% (5400) have a full autopsy.
Approximately 32, 000 people die in Victoria each year. There is one main coronial facility in Melbourne, and approximately 4,003 deaths per year are reported to coroner, and 2,423 have a full autopsy.
Approximately 3, 700 people die in Tasmania each year. There is one main coronial facility in Hobart. Approximately 637 deaths per year are reported to the coroner, and 169 result in inquiries and autopsy
Approximately 11,800 people die in South Australia each year. There is one main coronial facility in Adelaide, and in 2002 there were 3,507 deaths reported to the coroner, and of those 1,072 had an autopsy
Approximately 11,700 people die in Western Australia each year. There is one main coronial facility in Perth. Approximately 1,600 -1,700 deaths per year are reported to the coroner and approximately 1,400 result in autopsy.
Australian Capital Territory
Approximately 1,300 people die in the Australian Capital Territory per year. There is one main coronial facility in Canberra. Approximately 350 deaths result in autopsy.
Approximately 900 people die in the Northern Territory each year. There is one main facility for coronial autopsies, - 330 reportable deaths per year and 99.9% of those have an autopsy.
The statistics are mostly averages and change from year to year. Autopsies are also performed at some regional hospitals around Australia and official regional medical facilities. These figures are not included in the statistics. Complete Australian figures are not currently available.