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. 

Proceedings commenced with an opening address on 25 August 2021.

Hearing of the coronial inquests and inquiries are scheduled to resume on 15 June 2022 (see details below) and a directions hearing is scheduled at 10.00am on 16 June 2022.

These proceedings are subject to procedures under the State Coroner's COVID-19 Memorandum No. 6 (PDF , 117.0 KB). All hearings will be conducted consistent with applicable COVID-safe practices.  

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

Subject to further directions, hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             28 February – 4 March 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             7 – 18 March 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             21 – 25 March 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             9 – 13 May 2022 
  • Katoomba Local Court:                    15 – 24 June 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             27 June – 1 July 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:              5 - 30 September 2022
  • Coroners Court, Lidcombe:             20 - 24 March 2023            


The proposed schedule for the Central/Metro and final Southern Region fires is as follows:

Central/Metro Region

Proceedings*

Week 1

09/05/22 – 13/05/22      

Lidcombe



Inquiry into the fire at Green Wattle Creek, Balmoral

Inquest into the death of Geoffrey Keaton

Inquest into the death of Andrew O’Dwyer

Inquiry into the fire at Ruined Castle, Kedumba Valley



Week 2

14/06/22 – 17/06/22

Katoomba

Inquiry into the fire at Gospers Mountain (Wollemi National Park)

Inquiry into the fire at Grose Valley, Mount Wilson


Week 3

20/06/22 – 24/06/22

Katoomba

Inquiry into the fire at Little L Complex, Laguna

Inquiry into the fire at Palmers Oaky, Upper Turon

Southern Region

Proceedings*

Week 5

27/06/22 – 01/07/22      

Lidcombe



Inquiry into the fire at Good Good, Tallananda National Park, Jerangle


Inquest into the death of Michael Clarke (continued)

Inquiry into the fire at Creewah Road, Glen Allen 

Inquiry into the fire at Big Jack Mountain Road, Cathcart 

Inquiry into the fire at Postmans Trail, Tantawangalo 

Week 6

20/03/23 - 24/03/23

Lidcombe 

Inquest into the death of Paul Hudson

Inquest into the death of Ian McBeth

Inquest into the death of Rick DeMorgan Jr

*This schedule is subject to change. 

The proposed schedule for the Stage 2 Case Study Hearings to be held in September 2022 will be published when available.  

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:

04 Jul 2022

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