Frequently asked questions
Find the answers to your questions about the Inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event.
What is the purpose of an inquest?
The Coroners Court of Victoria is a specialist inquisitorial court established under the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic).
The purpose of an inquest is to enable coroners to carry out the functions of the coronial system in Victoria, by conducting independent investigations into reportable deaths and make findings and recommendations that contribute to:
- A reduction in the number of reportable deaths
- The promotion of public health and safety, and
- The administration of justice.
Who is conducting the Inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event?
Her Honour Coroner Jacqui Hawkins is conducting the Inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event.
Where is the Inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event being held?
The Inquest will be held at the Coroners Court of Victoria, unless advised otherwise in advance.
The Coroners Court of Victoria is located at 65 Kavanagh Street, Southbank, Victoria, 3006.
When will the hearings start?
Please find information about upcoming hearings relating to the Inquest on the Hearing dates webpage.
Do media have access?
Yes, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins is committed to ensuring that the hearings are open to the public generally and is focused on ensuring access for the media to report on the Inquest more broadly.
Journalists should be aware of their obligations regarding suppression orders under the Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic). There are penalties for contravening a suppression order with individuals facing up to five years imprisonment.
Do the public have access?
Yes. More information about public access to the Inquest hearings will be provided closer to the hearings.
Who can be called to give evidence?
Coroner Jacqui Hawkins is responsible for deciding who will be called to give evidence at the Inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event. Where appropriate, Coroner Hawkins may consider the views of interested parties when deciding who will give evidence in the Inquest.
Can witnesses be compelled to attend or provide evidence for an inquest?
Yes. Section 55 of the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic) empowers a coroner to summon a person to attend as a witness and answer questions. In addition, Section 57(4) of the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic) empowers a coroner to require a person to give evidence if satisfied that:
- The evidence does not tend to prove that the witness has committed an offence against or arising under, or is liable to a civil penalty under, a law of a foreign country, and
- The interests of justice required that the witness give the evidence.
A coroner may also issue a warrant for the arrest of any person that has been summoned to appear at an inquest and fails to do so (Section 59 of the Coroners Act 2008 (Vic)).
What are the possible outcomes of an inquest?
Coroners must publish their findings, and any recommendations and/or comments relating to an inquest on the Coroners Court of Victoria website.
At the conclusion of the inquest into the January 2017 Melbourne Bourke Street event, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins must, if possible, find:
- The identity of the six deceased persons
- The medical causes of death, and
- The circumstances in which the deaths occurred (except in exceptional circumstances not relevant to this Inquest).
Coroner Jacqui Hawkins may also comment on any matter connected with the deaths, including matters relating to public health and safety or the administration of justice.
Coroners are not permitted to make findings, or any comments or statements, about any person being guilty of an offence.
Coroners may also make recommendations to any entity on any matter connected to the death(s) being investigated, including matters relating to public health and safety or the administration of justice.
What is a suppression order?
A suppression order is an order made by a coroner to prohibit or restrict the publication of certain details of an inquest. This suppression order may include prohibiting or restricting the publication of a report of the whole or any part of the inquest, or any information derived from the inquest.
According to the Open Courts Act 2013 (Vic), the Coroners Court may make a suppression order in the case of an investigation or inquest into a death or fire if the coroner reasonably believes that an order is necessary because disclosure would be likely to prejudice the fair trial of a person, or be contrary to the public interest.
There are penalties for contravening a suppression order with individuals facing up to five years imprisonment.