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ANZFSS newsletter December 2019, Volume 9 Issue 3
In this issue:
  • President's Message
  • Allan Hodda Memorial Award
  • News from VIC, TAS, WA and NSW
  • IAFS/ANZFSS 2020 update
  • Speaker call - Soapbox Science Sydney
President's Message

Dear ANZFSS Members,
 
The festive season is upon us once again and time to reflect – mainly on how 20109 came and went so quickly. But 2019 has been a really productive year for our society and in this end-of-year message I will highlight a few things that have happened.
 
Professional Membership is now active. It might have been a long-time coming, but we did not wish to launch this membership category until we were confident that the optimum assessment process was in place. VP Australia Ali Sears took the lead on this and so many on Council assisted by providing feedback: my thanks to all. As of the time of writing, eight members are now Professional Members of the ANZFSS and a further five have their application in the system. I am confident that this form of membership will prove even more popular in 2020 and also reflects well on the professional profile of this society. I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Branch Presidents and all the area specialists who have been called to help with the assessment process; your help has been greatly appreciated and will be call on next year.
 
The joint conference is a task that has taken much of my time this year and will do next until September. As a member of the Organising Committee, my specific task is to seek sponsorship and financial support; with more funding more activities can be added to the meeting. The reason conferences exist is to share high quality scientific information; in this regard a call for abstracts is out already and these will close at the end of January. This is the first time since 2010 that the symposium has returned to the Eastern Seaboard (after highly successful symposia in Hobart, Adelaide, Auckland and Perth) and given the increasing attendance of the ANZFSS members at these meeting, I well expect a record number to attend this joint IAFS/ANZFSS conference.
 
As you will see elsewhere in this newsletter, there is a call for members of the ANZFSS to apply for an award to support attendance the joint ANZFSS/IAFS meeting next September. These will all be assessed starting in February with the aim of letting all who apply the outcome of the application as soon as possible. The key criterion is scientific content – the symposium is a chance to really showcase the high-quality science that this happening in this part of the world.
 
I have had the privilege of travelling to many of the Branches this year. Our colleagues in Darwin put on a spectacular event to host the AGM and in October I attended the AGM of the Queensland Branch.  High on the agenda for this Branch is forward planning to host the 2022 symposium. Planning for these symposia takes more than 2 years and I am delighted that an active organising committee has been formed, venues sought, and all is on track at this early stage. The ANZFSS Council have a wealth of experience and always here to give advice when called on.
 
This will be my last end-of-year message as after three years in this position, I have decided not to nominate for the position of president at the 2020 AGM. I made this clear to members of the Executive and then the rest of Council earlier this year. I am delighted that the Rules of Association were altered to now include the position of President-Elect and, after approval of these changes, James Curran nominated for this position at the AGM in Darwin and was duly elected as the first President-Elect. Six months out from the September meeting, March 2020, James will take on this role and be in a position to take over as President after the AGM at the 2020 meeting.  
 
On behalf of the Executive and Council of the Australian & New Zealand Forensic Science Society, I wish you and your family a safe and happy festive season and a healthy, successful and fantastic 2020
.

Professor Adrian Linacre, ANZFSS President

  
Allan Hodda Memorial Award
ANZFSS Council is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2019 Allan Hodda Memorial Award, Dr Nicola Beckett, who is a Chemist and Research Officer at ChemCentre. Nicola will be travelling to the USA and Brazil in 2020 to continue her work and expand her skills in the area of proteomic analysis.

The 2018 Allan Hodda Memorial Award recipient, Linda Jones, Unit Leader – Document Examination, Victoria Police Forensic Services Departmentrecently returned from her award travel, and has provided the following report.

In 2018 I was honoured to receive the Allan Hodda Memorial Award. The award provided me the opportunity to travel to the United States of America and Europe to explore contemporary issues facing the forensic document examination discipline, including human factors, evidence evaluation and reporting and capability development. I was able to attend and present at both the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE) and the 1st Joint Meeting of the European Network of Forensic Handwriting Experts (ENFHEX) and the European Fingerprinting Working Group (EFP-WG). I was also invited to visit the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) and the Zurich Forensic Science Institute (FOR).

The 77th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE) was held in Cary, North Carolina, USA from 3 - 8 August 2019. The meeting attracted delegates from the USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland and included oral presentations and workshops delivered by practitioners, academics and researchers. The theme of the meeting ‘Strengthening Forensic Document Examination’ was to highlight the collaborations and research that have brought the discipline of forensic document examination to where it stands today. I presented on ‘Transitioning to Evaluative Reporting: Lessons being Learnt by the Australian and New Zealand Document Examination Community’.

Prior to the ASQDE meeting I was invited to visit the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (USACIL) located within the Defence Forensic Science Center (DFSC) at the Gillem Enclave in Forest Park, Georgia, USA. The USACIL is an accredited forensic laboratory under ISO/IEC 17025 and provides state of the art forensic examinations across a number of disciplines. I meet with Derek Hammond from the Forensic Documents Branch and was provided a tour of this impressive facility. I was able discuss and collaborate on a range of topic including examinations conducted in the forensic document area, examiner expertise, peer review and reporting for handwriting and signature examinations.

I was very privileged to be hosted by the Zurich Forensic Science Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. The Forensic Science Institute offers a comprehensive array of services and is considered to be the leading centre of forensic competence in Switzerland. I meet with Nicole Crown and Erich Kupferschmid from the Handwriting Unit and with Dr Andreas Rippert from the Questioned Document Unit. Both areas are leaders in their respective disciplines, and I was lucky enough to have an entire week to learn about capabilities not yet in use in Australia and New Zealand and discuss in depth the logical approach to casework examination and evaluative reporting.

The 1st Joint Meeting of the European Network of Forensic Handwriting Experts (ENFHEX) and the European Fingerprinting Working Group (EFP-WG) was held in Porto, Portugal from 9- 12 September 2019. The meeting theme ‘Interpretive Forensic Science: common issues’ was chosen to address issues that are relevant to both working groups. The program was a mixture of both joint and separate sessions for both Working Groups.
The joint session included:
  • An Evaluation of the Efficacy of an Electrostatic Detection Device as a Screening Tool for Latent Prints
  • Practical Implications of Human Factors on Forensic Science: Best Practice for Fingerprints and Handwriting Examination
  • STEFA G03 - Joint Collaborative Exercise for Document Examination, DNA, Fingerprints and Handwriting
  • How jurors, lawyers and police understand our reports (across the forensic sciences)
  • The Standardisation of contemporaneous notes via the use of forms: Application in Fingerprints and Handwriting Examination
  • A Digital Evaluation of Digital Evidence
The Handwriting Examination working group sessions included:
  • NIST/NIJ Expert Working Group for Human Factors in Handwriting Examination: The Process of Process Mapping
  • FDE Standards Development in the USA
  • Digitally Captured Signatures
  • Creating the BPM for Forensic Examination of Digitally Captured Signatures
  • Kinematic Validation of FDE Writership Determinations
  • Evaluative Reporting
  • Approaching cognitive bias in forensic science
  • Cognitive human factors and forensic document examiner methods and procedures
  • Workshop - Comparison of forensic examination of Arabic/Latin based script
  • Workshop - Signatures: Disguised or Simulated
  • Workshop - When is a signature not a signature?
The Allan Hodda Memorial allowed me to engage and collaborate with practitioners and researchers from across the international forensic community. I am so grateful for the enthusiasm to collaborate and time each individual and organisation offered me. I would also like to sincerely thank the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society for providing this amazing opportunity. I look forward to being able to share more at the 25th ANZFSS Symposium in Sydney in 2020.
NEWS FROM ACROSS THE SOCIETY
ANZFSS - Victoria
Preparing for next year – the last Victorian Branch committee meeting for 2019. Photo credit: Ian Neely
The Vic Branch had a great selection of events at particularly interesting venues during 2019. We started the year with speaker Acting Station Officer Paul Villani of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Paul gave an overview of the work that is conducted in the MFB’s Fire Investigation Unit. We were extremely fortunate to hold this meeting at the Victorian Police Museum, which was holding an exhibition of photos commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires – Things of Fire and Ash, Remembered.

At our next event, speaker Caroline Gibb (a former Victoria Police Fingerprint Expert and former Vic Branch committee member), spoke to the branch about her experiences moving to work in the Netherlands Forensic Institute, in the Hague.

In August members were invited to a visit at the VicPol Water Police in Williamstown, where they had a presentation by Senior Sergeant Mark O'Rourke (Operations Manager) focussing on the recently established investigations unit and maritime specific examinations. We then had a tour of the Rescue Coordination Centre which is the hub for marine and land Search and Rescue in Victoria.

One of the most attended events of the year was a talk held at the Victorian Supreme Court by Retired British Military Barrister Roger Lewis. Rodger presented two case reviews from his time posted in Germany and gave us great insight into the challenges and issues associated with legal and forensic matters in a military environment. Attendees were excited to walk around the court room, sit in the jury box and even stand in the witness box!

The Vic Branch held their local AGM in October at the Metropolitan Hotel in Melbourne, with speaker Former VicPol Detective Narelle Fraser in attendance. Narelle shared her fascinating experiences regarding high-profile Victorian murders and the impact this type of work had on her mental health.
 
The AGM saw a big change in committee membership. Sadly, the committee said goodbye to the Secretary Tim Verdon (AFP) and the very long-standing Treasurer of 9 years, Scott Azzopardi (VPFSD). The branch thanked both Tim and Scott for their contributions. You will both be missed!

Outgoing President, Dr Jim Pearson, announced his stepping down from the role after 10 years of dedicated service. During his time the branch grew to include 260 members. Luckily Jim agreed to stay on the committee as a general member which the in-coming president Erin Pirie is particularly thankful for.

Our new committee for 2019-2020 are:
President: Erin PIRIE (VPFSD)
Vice-President: Joseph BALKWILL (VPFSD)
Treasurer: Joanne GERSTNER-STEVENS (VPFSD)
Secretary: Elizabeth HERSCHELL (VPFSD)
General Members:  Linda JONES (VPFSD), Jim PEARSON (VPFSD), Mitch MONTGOMERY (Deakin), Craig HEWITSON (VPFSD), Bianca SZKUTA (Deakin), Mariya GORAY (VPFSD), Tracie GOULD (NIFS) and Ian NEELY (VPFSD)

Since the AGM we have also said a sad farewell to committee member Janette Psaroudis (VPFSD) and would like to thank her for her contribution. The new committee has already met twice and is eagerly putting together a program for 2020. 

Contributed by Erin Pirie, Victoria Branch President
ANZFSS - Tasmania
Member Profile: Sgt Gerard Dutton, Ballistics, Tasmania Police Forensic Services
 

As current President of the Tasmanian ANZFSS branch I thought it was well time we acknowledge the contributions of one of our most active local branch members, Sgt Gerard Dutton, an ANZFSS member for 20 years. Gerard is internationally renowned for his work in firearm/toolmark forensics and has worked in this discipline for over 32 years.

“When I first joined the forensic firearms discipline with the NSW Police in 1987, my Inspector at that time, Henry Delaforce, told me: ‘You’ll only ever get out of this work what you put into it.’ I didn’t quite get what he meant then but I do now. It is the very best advice you can give any young person starting out in a new career.”

Gerard has been involved in many high profile cases including the Ivan Milat backpacker murders, the murder of heart surgeon Dr Victor Chang and the Port Arthur shooting, to name just a few. Although there are too many to list, Gerard has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including being the only Australian firearms examiner to be bestowed Distinguished Membership of AFTE (Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners) and 13 NIFS awards for published papers and recognition of work on national projects - Tasmania Police are very privileged to be able to rely on his expertise.

 “I consider myself fortunate to have found a profession which remains to be stimulating over 32 years later and where I still continue to learn new things; this is absolutely essential to remain engaged in the work otherwise stagnation will surely set in. The learning process must never cease.”

Gerard is a past President and Vice President and is the current Treasurer of the Tasmanian ANZFSS branch (a position he has held for the past 6 years). While President, he was also Chairman of the Organising Committee of the successful 2012 ANZFSS Symposium held in Hobart. He has been instrumental in the local branch, organising many professional development workshops and presentations and having presented his own work on several occasions. Gerard is a familiar face to ANZFSS members, having attended and presented at all but one ANZFSS symposia held over the last 20 years, being a successful recipient of a number of state and national ANZFSS travel scholarships. Gerard was also awarded the 2013 ANZFSS Allan Hodda Travel Scholarship and travelled to Europe to examine the pros and cons of the likelihood ratio approach to firearm/toolmark evidence interpretation – his work was subsequently published (AFTE Journal Vol 49, No. 4, 2017, Pages 239-251).

“Forensic science is a challenging area in which to work, especially in the last decade with many vocal critics claiming what we do in the comparative sciences is invalid. Time will show them to be wrong, of that I have no doubt. It is frustrating that our critics don’t accept that forensic science is mostly quite sound, but many problems experienced with wrongful convictions are often due to poorly trained or incompetent practitioners, or who overstep the boundaries of their expertise and who say unsupportable things. No profession is immune to that so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! ”

More recently, Gerard has travelled annually to Ramallah in the West Bank to personally deliver two week blocks of training to members of the Palestinian Civil Police Forensic Laboratory as part of a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) capacity building project.

We are very fortunate to have a practitioner of Sgt Dutton’s calibre as a member of the Tasmanian ANZFSS branch and the branch committee would like to take the opportunity to ac
knowledge his ongoing involvement and his passion for the society at both the local and national level.


Contributed by Dr Charles Conner, Tasmania Branch President

ANZFSS - Western Australia
The awarding of a Life Membership to Hadyn Green was announced at the recently held WA Branch AGM. This will be celebrated (in style!) with Hadyn in the new year, but in the meantime it lead us to think about past life members. One of our more recent life members, Peter Thomas, is also an historian and he has been delving into the background of the society in Western Australia. In the process we were able to reestablish contact with a much earlier life member, Jack Billings APM.
 
Jack had a highly distinguished career in the WA Police Force, much of it in the Scientific Bureau (later the Forensic Branch) where he later became OIC for several years. He retired at the rank of Assistant Commissioner. In 1976, at great risk to himself, he alone disarmed two remaining explosive devices at the Bunbury Woodchip Terminal, after a third had exploded successfully causing considerable damage. A short outline of this case can be found on the WA Police Historical Society’s website that Peter Thomas maintains.
 
Jack was a very early member of the Western Australian Forensic Society, which was the forebear of the current Western Australian Branch of the ANZFSS. In his words:
 
“The WA Forensic society was commenced in 1972 by Vin Mc Linden, Leo Murphy and Dr Don Hainsworth (WA State pathologist). Quite a number of us then became foundation members and organised our first National Symposium in 1975 at the White Sands Hotel in Scarborough (I was a friend of David Price the Licensee and ex WA Police Cadet who later joined the Fingerprint Bureau)”
 
Jack was made a life member in 1993. We were delighted that Jack was able to join us for a number of meetings this year.
Photo credit: Jack Billings
In more recent news we have been celebrating the achievements of a number of our members, particularly in the space of outreach to the general public.
 
Dr Kari Pitts (ChemCentre) is one of the Superstars of STEM for 2019/2020, which has kept her busy doing a variety of public speaking events all around the country. In between times she managed to visit the Europe and the UK to present at the ENSFI EPG (European Paint and Glass) group meeting and visit the James Hutton Institute. This travel was supported the Ian Ritchie Achievement Award bursary from ChemCentre.
 
Dr Georgina Sauzier (Curtin University) has been selected as the RACI Bayliss Speaker for 2020. The lecture is named in honour of the late emeritus professor Sir Noel Bayliss for his contributions to chemistry and education, and aims to encourage an interest in chemistry by young people. She has also been made the section editor (general) for the new open access journal Forensic Science International: Reports.
 
Dr Paola Magni (Murdoch University) was the winner of the 2019 National FameLab (as well as being the audience choice) and represented Australia at the international final in the UK. She has just been appointed to the position of Deputy Dean at Murdoch University Singapore.

Contributed by John McGinn, WA Branch President
ANZFSS - New South Wales
The NSW Branch had another great year. Ahead of the 2020 ANZFSS/IAFS meeting to be held in September we have been working hard to diversify our membership base and encourage new attendance by holding our meetings at a variety of locations across Sydney. We wish to thank University of Technology Sydney, Western Sydney University, and the Australian Museum for providing us venues throughout the year. Our February meeting was a social ‘get to know your committee members’ night, and in March Former Det Snr Sgt Stephen Horn APM spoke about his 50 years of career experience entitled “CSI – From Sydney to the Soviet Union”. In May we heard from Assoc. Prof Malcolm Mcleod and Mr Gino Vumbaca about a very topical issue “The Chemistry Behind Pill Testing”. Malcolm and Gino gave an overview of the science behind pill testing, as well as the current scale, application and capabilities of pill testing in Australia.

Our 2019 public night “Podcasts, Police and Prosecution: the impact of podcasts on justice” was held in July and moderated by SMH journalist Lucy Cormack, featuring presentations from Dave Murray, John Sutton, Judge Robert Sutherland SC, Dr Michael Kennedy was roaring success. A lively discussion entertained our packed audience, complete with an appearance from canine sidekick Ruby. In September we held the NSW Branch AGM and heard from forensic pathologist, Dr Dianne Little about her fascinating career while she also stepped the audience through the newly built morgue facilities at Lidcombe.

For our end year event, in November the NSW Branch was delighted to have multi award winning investigative journalist Kate McClymont as the guest speaker for our end of year dinner. Kate presented humorous and poignant tales of her often harrowing interactions with some very shady individuals from the criminal underworld while she is reporting stories of crime and corruption. She provided interesting parallels between her role and the role of the forensic scientist in that we are both attempting to extract facts under often difficult and challenging conditions. It was both an entertaining and highly thought provoking presentation. Kate also showed great interest in the work of our members in various disciplines. The event was held at the Kirribilli Club and featured magnificent views of the spectacular Sydney harbour. Our committee members did a spectacular job decorating the venue with some amazing forensic themed items including blood splash stickers, crime scene tape and a variety of ‘festive’ skulls! There were also gifts of specially made ginger bread ‘victims’ in various stages of dismemberment.  Guests were also treated during the evening to some amazing magic tricks performed by a roving magician who wowed us all with his sleight of hand with cards, coins and even a special ‘Cluedo’ based illusion. It all combined to produce a very memorable and successful night for the NSW Branch members and their guests.

Special thanks to the NSW Branch committee for volunteering their time to bring excellence to our branch by attracting leading speakers in the forensic sciences and coordinating the events for our members.

Contributed by Dr Rebecca Johnson, NSW Branch President
From top: NSW Branch guest speaker, investigative journalist Kate McClymont; creativity of NSW Branch committee members on show; some of the NSW committee with Kate McClymont (L to R: Branch President Rebecca Johnson, Kate McClymont, David Bruce, Vice President Jennifer Raymond, Eric Murray).
IAFS/ANZFSS 2020
Have you submitted an abstract for the most memorable international forensic science conference?
As you know, the 22nd Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Science will be held in conjunction with 25th ANZFSS Symposium in Sydney on 21-25 September 2020. With an exciting program shaping up and 22 disciplines to choose from, you simply cannot miss this once in a career opportunity to network with a global forensic audience. IAFS 2020 primary focus will be on the challenges of the future for forensic science, especially in the digital age.

The
call for abstracts and workshops opened on the 23rd September and will close on the 31st January. Why not use the break over the festive season to write your abstract and be part of this exceptional international meeting. Highlight your work to a global audience and be sure not to miss this opportunity. 

Since the last newsletter, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) announced that Prof. Christophe Champod, University of Lausanne, is the 2020 recipient of the AAFS Douglas M. Lucas Medal. Prof. Champod has tirelessly championed the areas of forensic inference and identification. In particular, his research and outstanding leadership have been a progressive force in changing the field of pattern evidence toward accepting the inclusion of uncertainty in case reports. Prof. Champod will present the plenary “Douglas M. Lucas Lecture” entitled Source Identification: A Plague on Forensic Science, in the session following the Opening Ceremony on Tuesday 22 September 2020. Further, the
keynote program continues to develop well and we are pleased to announce a number of speakers from across the globe.

Overall, the Organising Committee is keen for the conference to leave a long-lasting legacy in forensic science. This will include capacity building in the form of support for emerging delegates and delegates from emerging countries and a forensic science strategic blueprint for many years to come.

I thank the members of the various Committees for their dedication and support including the Organising Committee, Advisory Committee, Discipline Convenors and the community in general for their support. I wish you, your family and friends a happy and safe holiday season.



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Contributed by Distinguished Professor Claude Roux, President, International Association of Forensic Sciences, ANZFSS Immediate Past-President, University of Technology Sydney
Call for speakers:
Soapbox Science Sydney

The speaker call for Soapbox Sydney 2020 is NOW OPEN!

Join top female researchers as they take their research to the streets!   

We’ll provide training and support to help you engage the public with your research, inspire the next generation and promote women in STEMM.

Sydney

15th August 2019, Circular Quay

Find out more and apply to take part here.

Soapbox Science Sydney is in its second year of bringing cutting-edge research to the public, in an accessible, fun, and unintimidating way - 3 hours, busy public thoroughfare and 12 female speakers standing on soapboxes engaging with the public about their research. The speakers, from PhD to professor level, will be chosen from a nation-wide call and will encompass all of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths & Medicine (STEMM) fields.

Unlike other STEMM events, the great thing about Soapbox Science Sydney is that the people we speak too will not have necessarily planned to come and learn about research. We’re hoping to inspire people who never normally get exposed to STEMM, especially young people. At the core of Soapbox Science is also the promotion and support of women in STEMM. We want to increase their visibility, provide inspiration and role models for budding young female researchers, and improve awareness of the wealth of research that is conducted by women in STEMM in Australia.

We look forward to receiving your applications.

The Soapbox Science Sydney Organising Committee: Laura McCaughey, Xanthe Spindler, Amy Bottomley, Euan McCaughey

(2019 event video)

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