The ‘Senior next of kin’ is the family member who is recognised as the main point of contact by the Coroner, and the main decision maker when decisions need to be made.
He or she will be notified about any medical procedures and will also be provided with updates on the progress of the investigation and any medical reports provided to the Coroner.
It is necessary to have a Senior next of kin, because the Coroner cannot contact and receive preferences from all members of the family individually.
The Senior next of kin is determined by an order of priority specified by the
Coroners Act 2009. The Coroner will make a decision if there is more than one candidate for the role of Senior next of kin. If the person who would otherwise be the Senior next of kin does not wish to take on the role, they may nominate another person as their 'delegate'.
According to the
Coroners Act 2009, "Senior next of kin" of a deceased person means:
(a) the deceased person’s
(b) if the deceased person did not have a spouse or a spouse is not available – any of the deceased person’s children who are adults, or
(c) if the deceased person did not have a spouse or child or a spouse or child is not available – either of the deceased person’s parents, or
(d) if the deceased person did not have a spouse, child or living parent or a spouse, child or parent is not available – any of the deceased person’s brothers or sisters who are adults, or
(e) if the deceased person did not have a spouse, child, living parent, brother or sister or a spouse, child, parent, brother or sister is not available:
(i) any person who is named as an executor in the deceased person’s will, or
(ii) any person who was the deceased person’s legal personal representative immediately before the deceased person’s death.
(a) a husband or wife, or
(b) a de facto partner,
But where more than one person would so qualify as a spouse, means only the last person so to qualify.
“De facto partner” is defined in section 21C of the
Interpretation Act 1987.
People with a legitimate interest in a coronial matter can register as an
interested party and receive updates about the coronial process.