The National Coronial Information System (NCIS) is a secure database of information on deaths reported to a coroner in Australia and New Zealand. The NCIS contains data on almost 400,000 cases, investigated by a coroner. Data includes demographic information on the deceased, contextual details on the nature of the fatality and searchable medico-legal case reports including the coronial finding, autopsy and toxicology report and police notification of death.
The database is available to coroners to assist investigations and appropriate access is available on application for research or monitoring projects.
What we do
The NCIS collects, organises and quality assures Australian and New Zealand coronial data. We produce high-quality reports for use in coronial investigations and research into preventable death and injury. Reports are used to identify trends and similar cases nationally, and contribute to health policy development and prevention strategies. We provide annual statistics for government reporting and manage access for approved research and monitoring projects.
Key roles of the NCIS:
The NCIS was established in 2000, as an initiative of the Australian Coroner’s Society, in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It followed 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.
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. Prior to the establishment of the NCIS, 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 as a way to formalise this exchange and to provide a place and a method for retrieving information on demand.
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 Commonwealth 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. The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine subsequently managed the system from 2004-2012. Since 2012, the NCIS has been part of the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety through the Service, Strategy and Reform Division.
The value of the NCIS increases every year as more cases are added to this vast evidence base. The NCIS is a ‘work in progress,’ much like our understandings of preventable death.
The NCIS is governed by a Board of Management and administration is provided by the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety.
The NCIS is governed by a Board of Management comprised of coronial, public health, and rotating jurisdictional representatives from Australian State/Territories 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 Department of Justice and Community Safety in Victoria.
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.
Funding for the NCIS is provided annually from core funding agencies:
- Australian State/Territory Justice Departments
- New Zealand Ministry of Justice
- Commonwealth Department of Health
- Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
- Safe Work Australia
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
- Australian Institute of Criminology
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% of the NCIS operational budget. A full financial report is available in the NCIS Annual Report.
The NCIS Strategic Goals and Annual Reports outline our vision, mission, strategic goals, work plans and priorities. These documents set out the key activities we plan to complete in the years ahead.