The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby AC of the High Court will officiate at the launch of the first forensics research centre in Australia that draws together the inter-disciplinary fields of science, law and criminology.
The Centre for Forensic Excellence at Bond University on the Gold Coast represents collaboration between Australia’s foremost authorities and researchers in these distinct but increasingly inter-related fields: Pioneering DNA expert, Dr Angela van Daal; leading criminologist, Dr Paul Wilson AO; and criminal law specialist, David Field, who also serves as the Centre’s Director.
“The primary purpose of the Centre is to act as a focus for research in all aspects of forensic studies as they are applied to the justice system,” said Associate Professor Field.
“It is not just about the development of new scientific processes in isolation, or criminal psychology as a stand-alone issue, or the pure application of law.
“Rather, the research and activities carried out at Bond University’s Centre for Forensic Excellence will be driven by the need to consider each of those elements within a coordinated framework and to develop a common language between these specialist areas that seem to have no obvious common ground – or, as one of our founders put it, to ensure that everyone involved in the justice system is ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.”
The core team of foundation researchers will be supported by a high profile Advisory Board, headed by Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Professor Duncan Chappell.
The Board will also include the Director of the Australian Federal Police Forensic Services, Dr James Robertson; Senior Director of the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services, Greg Shaw; a senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; a representative from the Queensland Police Force; and a number of respected legal professionals.
The Honourable Justice Michael Kirby, one of Australia’s longest-standing High Court judges, will serve as the Centre’s Patron.
“Our team of researchers and advisors has taken on the challenging task of bringing the worlds of forensic science and law closer together,” said Associate Professor Field.
“It is a task we all believe will ultimately have a significant impact on the way justice is applied both here in Australia and worldwide.
“We are already seeing how advances in scientific testing and technology are challenging the established legal protocols on a daily basis in our courts.
“As such, the need for a coordinated and co-operative approach has never been more apparent.”
Initial research has already commenced at the Centre for Forensic Excellence, examining contentious issues such as the reliability of breath-testing equipment and the blindness of the so-called ‘eye-witness’.
Major future projects include a world conference on bioterrorism which is currently in the planning stages for next year and collaborative projects on the dilemma of dangerous prisoners and what has become known worldwide as the Observer Effect in forensic testing.
* Justice Kirby visits bond for Official Launch of Forensic Centre