Recent changes in legislation in Queensland, which allow objections to Coronial autopsy, enable families with religious proscriptions against autopsy to influence the autopsy decision making capacity of Coroners. This information is collected by police in the initial investigation. Such information is communicated to the Coroner prior to a decision regarding autopsy procedure.

In Queensland, a capacity to object to the autopsy examination carries further significance due to the requirement that the Coroner determine the level of invasiveness of the autopsy procedure. Under Section 19 of The Coroners Act 2003 (Qld), the Coroner is required to specify the level of invasiveness of the autopsy order, which may consist of “(i) an external examination of the body; or (ii) an external and partial internal examination of the body; or (iii) an external and full internal examination of the body”. In principle, it is argued that “the least intrusive examination that will resolve the issues in doubt should be ordered” . It is also stipulated under Section 19, that Coroners can only make such an order after considering, “that in some cases a deceased person’s family may be distressed by the making of this type of order, for example, because of cultural traditions or spiritual beliefs”. Further, a coroner must consider any concerns raised by a family member, or other person with “sufficient interest,” and if he or she decides to order an internal autopsy despite such concerns being expressed, a copy of the order must be given to the person who raised the concern . The Act does not provide any mechanism for a concerned family member to challenge an order but the decision would be subject to review in the Supreme Court at the instigation of the relative pursuant to the Judicial Review Act 1990.

Further Information

Australian Muslim Women’s Association
http://www.australianmuslimwomen.org.au/

Dealing with Grief in Islam (part 3 of 5)
http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1823/

Episode 1 - Anglican and Muslim
http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s4032525.htm
A country town Anglican farewell for a much loved local and a no-frills Muslim funeral for an asylum seeker.

MentalHealth4Muslims
http://mentalhealth4muslims.com/2011/03/12/a-mothers-reflection-of-grief-and-loss-in-islam/#&panel1-2

Osman Iqbal - Muslim funeral director.
This four minute clip focuses on some Muslim requirements of death and the bereaved from a funeral director’s perspective
http://www.abc.net.au/compass/s4046599.htm

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils
http://www.afic.com.au