Australia’s newest coroner’s court and forensic medicine facility has been completed, with the $90 million building opened last week.
The state’s Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the complex, in Lidcombe, “represents a significant leap forward for coronial investigations in NSW.”
He was joined at the building’s opening by NSW Health’s secretary, Elizabeth Koff.
“The extensive high-tech facilities will enable more comprehensive and timely investigations of sudden and unexplained deaths – including complex cases and disasters involving mass casualties,” Mr Speakman said.
Four state-of-the-art courtrooms mean “the complex will be able to host high-profile inquests on the scale of the Lindt Café siege investigation,” he continued.
The three-storey building “is designed to meet the needs of the state’s growing and diverse population for decades to come,” it was reported, and replaces the existing Glebe facility.
For Ms Koff, the building delivers “more sensitive and modern facilities” for people dealing with the unexpected loss of relatives and friends.
“When we talk about our coronial services, we sometimes overlook the fact that every case is linked to human tragedy with bereaved families in need of support, care and answers,” she said.
“The building is filled with natural light and features – such as tranquil courtyards and artwork – to create a calm environment for families during a time of great stress.”
As well as providing additional courtrooms, the facility will hold advanced clinical equipment “to help provide answers about the cause of death in the least invasive manner”, private viewing and counselling rooms, a multifaith room, advanced teaching suites, multipurpose rooms capable of screening inquests if courtrooms are full and audio-visual technology to enable witnesses to give evidence from remote locations.
Ms Koff noted that “examination and viewing facilities have been designed to provide even greater dignity and respect for the deceased patients and their families,” while fostering “seamless collaboration between forensic medicine, coronial staff and police.”
“Our teams of highly specialised experts face an incredibly challenging task of finding answers to complex coronial investigations where the cause of death is unknown,” she said.
As a result, “they’re looking forward to the new technologies, ways of working and much-needed additional capacity this building will provide,” Ms Koff continued.
Staff will move into the Lidcombe building over the next two months, with the first coronial inquest to be held in early February 2019.