NSW Bushfires coronial inquiry

Coronial investigations into deaths, property damage or destruction arising from the 2019-20 NSW Bushfire season have been ongoing and complex.  The scale of the fires has meant a number of other investigations have already taken place, including the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements.  Reports from each of these investigations have been publicly released.  

The review by the State Coroner is focussing on events particular to each death and fire rather than the large scale themes extensively canvassed in other investigations already reported. 

NSW Bushfires Coronial Inquiry

The State Coroner will be conducting a series of coronial inquests and inquiries relating to the 2019-20 NSW Bushfire season. The Inquiry commenced with an opening address on 25 August 2021. A further directions hearing will take place at 9.30am on Thursday, 3 February 2022.

Public hearings have been scheduled to take place at various regional locations. All hearings will be conducted consistent with COVID-safe practices. There will be no space available to safely accommodate members of the public and media in the hearing rooms. The public hearings for the Inquiry will resume on 28 February 2022 (see details below). 

The Coroners Court will live stream for the public and media all hearings. Further information about the live stream.

Subject to further directions, hearings have been scheduled to take place as follows:

  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:       6 - 17 September 2021
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:       20 September – 1 October 2021
  • Lismore Local Court                   28 February - 4 March 2022
  • Armidale Local Court                 7 - 18 March 2022
  • Taree Local Court                       21 - 25 March 2022
  • Cooma Local Court                    9 - 13 May 2022  (Good Good Fire only
  • Katoomba Local Court              14 June - 24 June 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe        27 June - 1 July 2022 (Green Wattle Creek                                                         Fire only)     

The proposed schedule for the Northern Region fires is as follows:

Northern Region

Proceedings*

Week 1

28/02/22 -04/03/22          

Lismore


Inquiry into the fire at Long Gully Road, Drake

Inquest into the death of Robert Lindsay

Inquest into the death of Gwendoline Hyde

Inquiry into the fire at Busbys Flat

Inquiry into the fire at Gulf Road, Emmaville and Torrington

Inquiry into the fire at Myall Creek Rd, Bora Ridge

Inquiry into the fire at Washpool State Forest, Coombadjha



Week 2

07/03/22 –11/03/22

Armidale

Inquiry into the fire at Kangawalla, Diehard

Inquest into the death of Vivien Chaplain

Inquest into the death of George Nole

Inquiry into the fire at Bees Nest (Guy Fawkes River National Park)

Inquiry into the fire at Liberation Trail (Chaelundi National Park)

Inquiry into the fire at Kian Road, South Arm

Inquest into the death of Christopher Savva

Inquiry into the fire at Mount Mackenzie Rd, Tenterfield


Week 3

14/03/22 – 18/03/22

Armidale

Inquiry into the fire at Carrai Creek, Carrai Plateau (Oxley Wild Rivers National Park)

Inquiry into the fire at Carrai East (Jacob Spurs), Willawarrin

Inquest into the death of Barry Parsons

Inquiry into the fire at Stockyard Flat, Yarrowitch

Inquest into the death of Russell Bratby

Week 4

21/03/22 – 25/03/22

Taree


Inquiry into the fire at Hillville

Inquiry into the fire at Rumba Complex, Dingo Tops Road (Tapin Tops National Park)

Inquiry into the fire at Bills Crossing, Crowdy Bay

Inquest into the death of Julie Fletcher

Inquiry into the fire at Failford Rd, Darawank Fire

*This schedule is subject to change. 

The Coroners Court has made changes to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 and important information about access to the Coroners Court is detailed here (PDF , 122.3 KB).  

Please refer to the Inquiry’s Information Paper located here (PDF , 144.9 KB) for more information about the hearing process.   

Interested parties

If it appears to the Coroner that a person has a sufficient interest in the subject matter of this Inquiry, they may be granted leave to appear or to be legally represented. 

An ‘interested party’ is not necessarily entitled to participate in any hearing and ask questions of witnesses unless leave to do so has been granted by the Coroner.   

A person who may be a witness during a hearing will not usually be granted leave to appear unless the Coroner has determined they are an interested party.

If you believe you have a legitimate interest in this Inquiry, you may register your interest by writing to the Solicitor Assisting containing the name of the relevant fire and the basis upon which you state you have a legitimate interest in that fire. Please provide registration of your interest to: bushfires.legal@justice.nsw.gov.au.

Submissions

The submission process was open during 16 June - 1 October 2021. All submissions received will be reviewed. 

Further information

Any questions can be directed to:

Mr Lyncoln Chee, Director

Inquests, Inquiries & Representation

Legal, Department of Communities and Justice

Phone: (02) 8688 0101

Email:   bushfires.legal@justice.nsw.gov.au

Post:    Locked Bag 5111, Parramatta NSW 2141

If you are unable to make a submission online, please call Legal, Department of Communities and Justice on (02) 8688 0101. 

The Court also has a list of useful help and support contacts which can be found here.


Last updated:

11 Jan 2022

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