The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) is a data repository containing information on deaths reported to a coroner in Australia and New Zealand. It is an essential data tool for both coroners and researchers to obtain nationally standardised information about the causes of preventable death and injury.
The NCIS is a voluntary data sharing collaboration between coroners courts from each Australian state and territory and New Zealand. Information contained on the NCIS is prepared by, and belongs to, the respective coroners court from each of these jurisdictions.
The NCIS core data set was agreed upon by all participating jurisdictions at the establishment of the NCIS. The NCIS Unit monitors the provision of information from Coroners Courts against the core data set.
Access to the database is available to coroners to assist investigations and appropriate access is available on application for research or monitoring projects.
Learn more about the history of the NCIS
The idea for a national database for coronial information had been considered in Australia since the early 1990s. At this time, each of Australia’s eight separate coronial jurisdictions had their own system of data collection and storage. Coronial records had been based on a manual filing system without indexes to identify clusters of similar cases. There was no systematic way of sharing information and coroners relied on ad hoc conversations at annual conferences to exchange ideas and information on fatal hazards. The concept of a national data repository was developed following recognition by coroners of the need for a method of securely sharing information between jurisdictions to identify similar deaths and provide data to strengthen the coroner’s prevention role.
In 1994, the Australian Coroners’ Society commissioned the National Injury Surveillance Unit of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to undertake a feasibility study on a national database for coronial information. This study was funded by the Australian Governement Department of Health and Aged Care. It recommended the establishment of a national database, and the recommendations were taken up by the Australian Coroners’ Society.
In September 1997, the Australian Coroners’ Society endorsed a business plan for the development and management of the NCIS, put forward by a consortium called the Monash University National Centre for Coronial Information (MUNCCI). The consortium was made up of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (a statutory agency of the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety which also hosts the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University), Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and the Monash University Accident Research Centre.
The NCIS was managed by MUNCCI until 2004. Management responsibilities were undertaken by the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine from 2004-2012. Since then, the NCIS has been part of the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety.
Prior to the implementation of the Coroners Act 2006 (NZ) New Zealand coronial data was not stored in any national centralised system. The inclusion of New Zealand cases in the NCIS coincided with the new Act coming into effect.
While the NCIS hosts data and provides other services to the coroners courts of each participating jurisdiction, it does not form part of any coroners court.
The provision and use of coronial data is governed by a licence agreement held between the NCIS and each coronial jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand and a memorandum of understanding between the NCIS and Victoria.
Board of management
The NCIS is governed by a Board of Management comprised of coronial, public health and jurisdictional representatives from Australian states and territories, the Australian Government and New Zealand. The role of the Board is to ensure effective management of funds, provide strategic direction and ensure all legal and financial responsibilities are met.
Administrative support is provided by the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety .
The NCIS Unit maintains the NCIS, provides services to coroners, death investigators and death and injury prevention researchers.
Key responsibilities include:
- collect data on reportable deaths
- quality assure and manage this unique collection of data
- provide high-quality statistical information and reports for use in coronial investigations, research into preventable death and injury, and government reporting
- manage access for approved death investigators and research and monitoring projects
- develop and maintain national coding standards.
Funding is provided by all Australian states and territories, New Zealand and select Australian Government agencies. Further revenue is generated through user pay fees for access to data by subscription and the NCIS data report service. Annual revenue generated from user pay fees fluctuates each year and can contribute as much as 15 per cent of the NCIS operational budget. Financial reports are available in the NCIS annual reports.
Funding justice departments
Funding Australian Government agencies