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Commissioner Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes commenced his appointment as the NSW Crime Commissioner on 24 August 2020.

From 2017 to 2020 Michael served as the NSW Ombudsman, where he oversaw the restructure of the organisation, the appointment of a new executive, and the launch of a new 5-year strategic plan.

Over the preceding 10 years Michael had first served as the inaugural Qld State Coroner and then (from January 2014) the NSW State Coroner. In these roles, Michael presided over numerous high profile and contentious inquests such as those investigating the death of Daniel Morcombe, the deaths arising from the sinking in the Torres Strait of the Malu Sara, the Lockhart River air crash, the deaths connected with the Pink Batts program, the death of Philip Hughes, and the Lindt Café siege.

Before he was a chief coroner, Michael served as Head, School of Justice Studies at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), a post he took up after 9 years as the Chief Officer of the complaints section at the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission.

Michael began his legal career in 1980 in a small suburban law firm in Brisbane. He was a partner in that firm for 5 years until he went to work for the Aboriginal Legal Service. He became interested in coronial work when appearing for the relatives of people whose deaths were investigated by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which highlighted the inadequacies of the coronial processes of that time.

Michael specialises in criminal and administrative law and undertakes research and teaching in criminal justice, health law, and corruption and organised crime investigation. He is an adjunct professor of the Faculty of Law at the QUT and of the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University.