Michael Barnes commenced as Commissioner of the NSW Crime Commission on 24 August 2020.
Prior to that Michael was NSW Ombudsman from 2017 to 2020. In that role he oversaw the restructuring of the organisation, the appointment of a new executive and the launching of a new strategic plan charting the course for the organisation for the next 5 years.
He had been NSW State Coroner since January 2014 after being the inaugural Qld State Coroner for the previous 10 years.
In those roles Mr Barnes presided over numerous high profile and contentious inquests such as the inquest into the death of Daniel Morcombe; the deaths arising from the sinking in the Torres Strait of the Department of Immigration vessel 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 becoming a chief coroner, Mr Barnes was Head, School of Justice Studies at Queensland University of Technology, 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 moved to 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.
He has since specialised in criminal and administrative law and undertakes research and teaching in criminal justice, health law, and corruption and organised crime investigation.
He was an adjunct professor of the Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology and of the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University.
Michael has a long involvement with SXS, having been a director 2010 -2013.