Who We Are
Who We Are
As an institution focused on forensic medicine and science, we serve the community and the courts. Our statutory responsibilities are to provide independent forensic medical and scientific expertise to the justice system, tissue for transplantation and to both teach and undertake research that will benefit the community.
The VIFM provides the justice system with the crucial evidence that underpins safe convictions and appropriate acquittals. Our doctors and scientists investigate deaths reported to the Coroner, examine alleged offenders and medically assess, treat and support victims of crime.
The Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria supports patients and their families by providing safe tissues for transplantation and medical research.
Our medical and scientific staff undertake research that directly contributes to public health and safety and the just working of our legal system. By contributing to the professional development and education of both health care and legal professionals we ensure a high standard of forensic medical services for Victoria and provide critical support for our healthcare and justice systems.
Our Structure and Services
|FORENSIC SERVICES DIVISION||ACADEMIC PROGRAMS DIVISION||DONOR TISSUE BANK OF VICTORIA|
|Forensic Pathology||Forensic Short Courses||Visit the DTBV website|
|Clinical Forensic Medicine||Forensic Medicine Courses (Monash University)|
|Forensic Odontology||International Programs|
|Molecular Biology (DNA)|
Our Working Relationships
The Institute works in close partnership with many sectors of the Victorian community. The strength of the working relationships we have with our clients and stakeholders is critical to our success. These partners include: the Attorney-General and the Department of Justice and Regulation; the Victorian courts particularly the Coroners Court of Victoria; the Universities including Monash University; Victoria Police; the Australian Federal Police; legal and medical professionals; and public and private hospitals.
Our Role in Teaching, Training and Research
The Institute’s founding legislation and mission requires us to undertake professional training and research in forensic medicine and related scientific disciplines.
These academic activities in medicine, law and science are fundamental to the Institute’s credibility in the courts and allow us to maintain a highly professional standing in national and international medical, legal and scientific communities.
Our role is perhaps best summarised in the words of the VIFM Council Chair, retired Supreme Court Judge The Hon John Coldrey QC:
“It is my belief that the justification for the existence of nation states is to enhance the quality of life of their citizens. And the true wealth of any country is found in its people.
That quality of life, that wealth, can be developed and nurtured in many ways: through the elimination of poverty; through the provision of health services; and through the establishment of a system of education which is available to all.
All nations are confronted with the challenges of implementing these programs. But any attempt to enhance the quality of life of a nation’s citizens will ultimately fail unless it is built upon the rule of law – a rule of law that guarantees justice for all without fear or favour. The cornerstone of the rule of law is the criminal justice system.
In any civilised society it is essential that persons who breach laws enacted for the good of all citizens, are brought before the courts and, if found guilty after a fair trial, conducted by an independent judicial officer, are subjected to the sanctions provided by those laws. Only if these conditions are met will confidence in the rule of law be promoted, and the victims of crime receive justice.
These principles seem self evident but they are by no means self fulfilling. We must all work at achieving them. In this task the role of the forensic pathologist is absolutely vital. So, too, is the contribution of the forensic medical practitioner; the forensic anthropologist; the forensic odontologist; and the forensic scientist. Each has the capacity to provide the courts with reliable, independent evidence, based upon expertise and experience – evidence untainted by an allegiance to any particular party in criminal proceedings but based solely upon an allegiance to the truth. To present evidence capable of inculpating the guilty, but, equally importantly, evidence capable of exculpating the innocent. This approach is encapsulated in the motto of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine “Veritas omnia vincit” – truth conquers all.
Each of the various experts in the field of forensic medicine is dedicated to finding and presenting the truth – be it in a court room setting, or in identifying the victims of natural disasters such as tsunamis or bushfires, or the man made disasters of armed conflict. The importance of identifying disaster victims cannot be overemphasised. It is the key to peace of mind, or justice (or both), for the loved ones left behind to grieve.”
I believe that the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is successfully fulfilling its role and purpose, not only for the benefit of Victorians, but also nationally and internationally.
The Hon John Coldrey, QC
Chair of the VIFM Council