The Coronial Council Secretariat is the first point of contact for all council business.

Postal address
C/- The Secretariat
Level 24, 121 Exhibition Street

About the Coronial Council

The Coronial Council was established under the Coroners Act 2008 (External link) (Vic) and is the first body of its kind in Australia. It is independent from the Victorian Government and the Coroners Court. The council's role is to advise and make recommendations to the Attorney-General on:

  • issues of importance to Victoria's coronial system
  • matters relating to the preventative role played by the Coroners Court (External link)
  • the way in which the coronial system engages with families and respects their cultural diversity, and
  • any other matters relating to the coronial system that are referred to the council by the Attorney-General.

It acts in a way that:

  • does not impinge on the independence of coroners’ professional tasks or the jurisdiction of the State Coroner
  • delivers strategic advice reflecting the changing physical and social environment with the aim of promoting a modern and responsive coronial system
  • strengthens collaboration between agencies across the service system
  • focuses on advice to enhance services to families
  • promotes the prevention role of the coroner
  • ensures that the views of bereaved families are reflected in the development of advice
  • complements existing governance structures in the State coronial system, and
  • promotes transparency, accessibility and accountability regarding the functions of the Victorian coronial system.


Membership of the Coronial Council is set out in section 111 of the Coroners Act 2008 (External link) (Vic). There are three statutory members: the State Coroner, the Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Chief Commissioner of Police.

The Council also comprises an additional five to seven persons appointed by the Governor in Council on recommendation by the Attorney-General. These members are chosen on the basis of merit and for the diversity of experience they bring to the role. This includes an understanding of the issues that affect the coronial jurisdiction, as well as other aspects that intersect with the coronial jurisdiction.

The Council is supported by a Secretariat, provided by the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

The current members are:


Clare Morton - Chair

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Clare Morton was appointed as Chair of the Coronial Council on 20 August 2019. 

She brings extensive and broad-ranging experience and knowledge to the role of Chairperson, having worked as a legal and policy professional as well as an Executive Officer within both the legal and government sectors.  

Ms Morton has extensive experience in the Victorian public sector. Previous roles include: Executive Director, Sexual Harassment and Respect at Court Services Victoria. Executive Officer at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and Acting CEO of the Coroners Court of Victoria. In this role Ms Morton was responsible for taking the Court through organisational, and health and wellbeing reforms. Prior to that, she was Director of Community Operations and Victims Support Agency for 10 years. Ms Morton is a Non-Executive Board member of Victoria Legal Aid and has been the President of Refugee Legal since 2007. 


State Coroner Judge John Cain  (ex officio)

Member under s 111(1)(a)

Judge John Cain was appointed State Coroner in October 2019, prior to which he was Victoria's Solicitor for Public Prosecution since November 2015. Judge Cain completed a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Law at Monash University before completing the Legal Professional Services Firm course at Harvard Business School in 2010.

His legal career began at Maurice Blackburn in 1982, where he was appointed a partner in 1987 and then Managing Partner from 1991 to 2002. Between 2002 and 2006, Judge Cain was CEO of the Law Institute of Victoria and became the Victorian Government Solicitor in 2006 until 2011, after which he became Managing Partner at Herbert Geer (now Thomson Geer).


Professor Noel Woodford - Director, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (ex officio)

Member under s 111(1)(b)

Professor Noel Woodford holds the Chair in Forensic Medicine at Monash University and was appointed Director at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) in July 2014

Prior to his appointment, Professor Woodford worked as a senior forensic pathologist at VIFM from 2003. Previously, he was a Consultant Home Office Pathologist and Senior Lecturer in Forensic Pathology in the Department of Forensic Pathology at Sheffield University, UK. Whilst in the UK, Professor Woodford obtained a Masters of Laws in Medical Law from the University of Cardiff. His special interests include sudden unexpected natural adult death and radiological imaging as an adjunct to medico-legal death investigation.


Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam, Victoria Police (ex officio) 

Member under s 111(1)(c)

Deputy Commissioner Steendam has been a member of Victoria Police for over 35 years. She commenced as Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations in November 2018, and currently has portfolio responsibility for Road Policing Command, Family Violence Command, Intelligence and Covert Support Command, the Forensic Services Department, the Legal Services Department and Victoria Police’ response to the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants.  

Deputy Commissioner Steendam has delivered far-reaching reforms in areas including violence against women and children, cultural change and strategic policy, information management, crime, drugs and counter-terrorism. 


Dr Ian Freckelton KC

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Dr Ian Freckelton is a King’s Counsel in full-time practice as a barrister.

Dr Freckelton is a Professorial Fellow in Law and Psychiatry (University of Melbourne), an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Medicine (Monash University), and a member of the Mental Health Tribunal.

He is the author of many books (including Death Investigation and the Coroner’s Inquest); editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine; and editor-in-chief of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.


Christopher Hall

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Mr Christopher Hall is a psychologist and the Chief Executive Officer of Grief Australia. Grief Australia is a clinical, educational and research organisation, and operates the Statewide Specialist Bereavement Service, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.

More broadly, Mr Hall has been Chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement and President of the Association for Death Education and Counselling.


Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor Robert Roseby

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor Robert Roseby is a Respiratory (and General) Paediatrician, Head of Medical Specialties and Head of Medical Education at Monash Children’s Hospital, and visiting paediatrician to the Western Suburbs Indigenous Gathering Place.

He is a member of the Child and Adolescent Subcommittee of the Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity. His previous roles include co-chair of the Board of Inquiry into the NT Child Protection System in 2009-10.


Maria Dimopoulos AM

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Maria Dimopoulos specialises in the intersections of diversity, gender equality and the law. She has over 25 years’ experience in policy formulation across all tiers of government, research for social planning and legal education. Ms Dimopoulos was the former deputy chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission and former Chairperson of the National Harmony Alliance – Refugee and Migrant Women for Change. She continues to be an active member of various organisations committed to access to justice, including the Judicial Council on Cultural Diversity, and is the current Chair of Safe and Equal, the peak body representing family violence services in Victoria.   


Dr Joanne Ryan

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

Associate Professor Joanne Ryan is an epidemiologist and Head of the Biological Neuropsychiatry and Dementia Unit in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. She has authored more than 140 research articles, predominantly focused on understanding the causes of depression, anxiety, trauma- and stress-related disorders and dementia, as well as evidence-based approaches to prevention. 

Current positions include Senior Editorial Board member of BMC Psychiatry and Cochrane UK (Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group), as well as Research governance positions and Academic roles in Research training and Equal Opportunity programs at Monash University. 


Dr Suzy Redston

Member appointed by the Governor in Council

After exploring the breadth of medicine in her first few post-graduate years in her roles as an Australian Army doctor and emergency medicine trainee Suzy decided to focus on the mind and trained in Psychiatry. After receiving her fellowship to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists she has worked continuously in both private and public mental health in Victoria. Her leadership roles have included 5 years as the clinical director of ethics psychological trauma and recovery service at Austin Health and 5 years as the medical director of the mental health division at Austin Health including through the first two years of the pandemic. Her areas of interest have been eating disorders and trauma related mental illnesses. She is trained in a number of psychotherapies. 


Reports to the Attorney-General

The Coronial Council provides advice and recommendations to the Victorian Attorney-General under section 110 of the Coroners Act 2008 (External link). Reviews underpinning this process are undertaken either at the request of the Attorney-General (which are known as 'references') or by 'own-motion'.

Descriptions of references and completed reports are available below:

  • First reference - People affected by coronial process in the course of their employment
  • Second reference - Asbestos related deaths and the coronial jurisdiction
  • Third reference - Suicide reporting in the coronial jurisdiction
  • Fourth reference - Rights to appeal coronial findings and re-open investigations
  • Own-motion review - Reporting of reportable deaths in hospitals to the Coroner
  • Own motion review - Reporting of reportable deaths in Victoria
  • Fifth reference - Review into the appropriate and responsive care of deaths in multicultural communities by the Coroners Court of Victoria and related entities involved in coronial processes
  • Sixth reference - Review into improving the experience of bereaved families with the coronial process

Annual reports

The Coronial Council is required to submit an annual report on its operations, which is tabled in the Victorian Parliament.

Related organisations and links


Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society

The Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society was formed in 1971 with the aim of bringing together scientists, police, criminalists, pathologists and members of the legal profession actively involved with the forensic sciences. The Society’s objectives are to enhance the quality of forensic science by providing symposia, lectures, discussions and demonstrations encompassing the various disciplines within the science.

Website: (External link)
For Victorian Branch information: (External link)


Grief Australia

Grief Australia is funded by the Victorian Department of Health to operate a Statewide Specialist Bereavement Service. Its mission is to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities in order to enhance well-being following adverse life events and undertakes a range of clinical, education and research activities. (External link)


Asia Pacific Coroners Society

The Asia Pacific Coroners Society was established to promote the advancement, best practice and education of coronial law and practice. Membership is open to all coroners and to anyone involved in, or associated with, the coronial jurisdiction, such as pathologists, forensic scientists, police investigators, lawyers and grief counsellors. Members of the Society are located in Australia, New Zealand and various nations in the Asia Pacific region. (External link)


Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University

The Department of Forensic Medicine operates as a department within the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. Its primary function is to advance the discipline of forensic medicine and associated disciplines, both in terms of its training and development of future practitioners and to increase the evidence basis for the discipline through research. (External link)


National Coronial Information system

The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) is a secure research database of information on deaths reported to a coroner in Australia and New Zealand. Information concerning every death reported to Australian coroners since July 2000 (January 2001 for Queensland) and New Zealand coroners since July 2007 is stored within the system. Data includes demographic information on the deceased, contextual details on the nature of the fatality and searchable medico-legal case reports including the coronial finding, autopsy and toxicology report and police notification of death. (External link)


Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is a statutory authority. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Regulation, reporting to Parliament through the Attorney-General. (External link)


Victoria Police Forensic Services Department 

The Victoria Police Forensic Services Department is one of the largest providers of forensic science services in Australia.

Forensic Services Department ( (External link)