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Duty To Report Deaths In Care

What the law says

Sections 7 of the Coroners Act Queensland states:

(1) This section applies if-

(a) a person becomes aware of a death that appears to be a reportable death; and

(b) the person does not reasonably believe that someone else has already reported, or is reporting, the death under subsection (2)

(2) The person must immediately report the death to-

(a) if the death is a death in custody-the State Coroner or Deputy State Coroner; or

(b) otherwise-a police officer or coroner.

Section 9 (1) A person's death is a death in care if, when the person died-

(a) the person had a disability mentioned in the Disability Services Act 1992, section 5, and-

(i) was living in a level 3 accredited residential service; or

(ii) was receiving residential services operated, or wholly or partly funded, by the department in which the Disability Services Act 1992 is administered; or

(iii) was living in a place-

(A) that is not a private dwelling or aged care facility; and

(B) that is wholly or partly funded by the department in which the Health Services Act 1991 is administered or at which that department provided services; or

(b) the person was..Under the Mental Health Act 2000-

(i) being taken to a place where there is an authorised mental health service under section 25, 39, 292, or 508 of that Act, or

(ii) being taken to, or detained in, a place where there is an authorised mental health service as an involuntary patient or under an emergency examination order; or

(iii) being detained because of a court order under section 101 (2), 273 (1)(b), 337(6) or 422(1) of that Act; or

(iv) undertaking limited community treatment while accompanied by an employee of a health service; or

(c) the person was under the guardianship of the chief executive under the Adoption of Children Act 1964, section 27; or

(d) The person was a child in care of a licensed care service, approved foster carer, or other person under the Child Protection Act 1999 section 82: or

(e) the person was a child in a placement with the consent of a parent or guardian.

(2) Subsection (1)(b) applies even if, immediately before the person was detained, the person was in the custody of the chief executive (corrective services) under the Corrective Services Act 2000.

(3) Subsection (1) applies even if the person died somewhere other than the place where the person ordinarily lived for the purposes of being in care.

(4) In this section-

Level 3 accredited residential service means a residential service that has, or is required to apply for, a level 2 accreditation under the Residential Services (Accreditation) Act 2002.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

Section 8

  1. A person's death is a reportable death only if the death is a death to which subsection (2) and subsection (3) both apply.
  2. A death is a reportable death if-
    • (a) the death happened in Queensland; or
    • (b) although the death happened outside Queensland-
      • (i) the person's body is in Queensland; or
      • (ii) at the time of death, the person ordinarily lived in Queensland; or
      • (iii) the person, at the time of death. Was on a journey to or from somewhere in Queensland; or
      • (iv) the death was caused by an event that happened in Queensland.
  3. A death is a reportable death if-
    • (a) it is not known who the person is; or
    • (b) the death was a violent or otherwise unnatural death; or
    • (c) the death happened in suspicious circumstances; or
    • (d) the death was not reasonably expected to be the outcome of a health procedure; or
    • (e) a cause of death certificate has not been issued, and is not likely to be issued. For the person; or
    • (f) the death is a death in care; or
    • (g) the death is a death in custody.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Failing to Report Deaths is 25 penalty units

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is summary which means it is dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. The death happened outside Queensland and was reported to a non-Queensland coroner.
  2. The death was not e reportable death under Section 8 of the Coroner's Act as above.
  3. The person was not in care when they died.
  4. The accused reasonably believes another person has reported the death (eg. A carer, a nurse, a doctor, another person who was aware of the death.

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