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New Coroners will address workload

Three new Coroners will start next week – two in Brisbane and one in Cairns – to address the increasing workload of the Coroners Court of Queensland.

New Coroners Melinda Zerner, Ainslie Kirkegaard and Stephanie Williams will be sworn in on 11 December to help address the 27 per cent increase in workload over the past decade.

Melinda Zerner is an experienced barrister, advocate and dispute resolution expert who holds tertiary qualifications in law, nursing, and education.

Her areas of interest and legal expertise extend to mediations, coronial inquests, personal injuries, in particular medical negligence, and commissions of inquiry.

She has previously appeared in the Court of Appeal, Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts, and as Counsel on coronial inquests. Ms Zerner has been appointed to Brisbane.

Ainslie Kirkegaard’s extensive experience includes service as an acting Magistrate performing the role of Coroner for the past eight years and as Queensland’s inaugural Coronial Registrar since 2012. 

Ms Kirkegaard has more than 20 years’ experience in the legal sector including in-house Counsel Assisting since joining the Coroners Court of Queensland in 2008.

She also has extensive experience developing and implementing legislation across the health and justice portfolios. Ms Kirkegaard has been appointed to Brisbane.

Stephanie Williams is a barrister with more than 16 years of experience in criminal law, domestic violence and coronial jurisdictions in Queensland.

She has acted as a counsel since October 2014 and has extensive experience in remote and regional communities. Ms Williams has been appointed to Cairns.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said: “The creation of three new coroner positions will help reduce backlogs, improve timeliness, and provide better delivery of trauma-informed services.”

They join two new appointees to the Magistrates Court to help ensure access to justice in regional Queensland.

Michael Wood and Dr Lance Rundle will both formally start their roles on the same day. Mr Wood will serve in Roma for three years.

Dr Rundle will first serve in Pine Rivers before moving to Rockhampton.

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