The NSW government is spending $100 million to build a new coroner’s court and forensic medicine facility in Sydney’s west, relocating the Glebe morgue to Lidcombe.
NSW attorney general Gabrielle Upton said the government-owned former Lidcombe Hospital site will become the new home for the NSW Coroner’s Court and Department of Forensic Medicine.
The government opened three forensic laboratories on the Lidcombe site two years ago, which use DNA and chemical analysis in a bid to solve crimes.
The attorney general said it was time to modernise and expand the facility, where a number of high-profile inquests have been held, including the current, ongoing investigation into the Martin Place siege in December 2014, as well as inquiries into backpacker murderer Ivan Milat, and the Thredbo landslide.
The new coroner’s court will double in size from two to four courtrooms and have video link so people can testify.
The morgue, Australia’s biggest and busiest mortuary, conducts post autopsies into accident, major disaster and crime victims, along with unexplained deaths, will also expanded to cope with additional demand. Since the Westmead morgue and pathology department was closed in 2008, there have been instances where the Glebe site was over capacity and bodies had to be transferred interstate.
The Glebe site also has a space known as “the Bone Room” where the skeletal remains of more than 250 unidentified people, dating back 100 years, are stored in the hope they can be one day identified.
Upton said the bigger Lidcombe site will “revolutionise the full suite of advanced forensic and coronial services we provide. The new precinct will not only provide a better and more collaborative working environment for staff but offer a more comfortable environment for grieving families.”
The coroner’s court moved from The Rocks to inner western Sydney in 1970. Around 6,000 deaths are reported to the Coroner annually, with about half occurring in the Sydney district.
The new site is expected to open in 2020.
The government will look at what do to with the old Glebe site on Parramatta Road. A number of nearby sites have been earmarked for high density residential development as part of the Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy.
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