Who We Are
As an institution focused on forensic medicine and related sciences, we serve the community and the courts. Our statutory responsibilities are to provide independent, expert forensic medical and scientific services to the justice system, tissue for transplantation, to teach and to undertake research.
The VIFM provides the justice system with evidence to underpin safe convictions and appropriate acquittals. Our doctors help investigate deaths reported to the Coroner, examine alleged offenders and 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.
VIDEO: Introduction to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine by Professor Stephen Cordner, Founding Director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.
Our staff include leading experts in forensic medicine including:
- Forensic Pathologists
- Clinical Forensic Physicians
- Forensic Odontologists
- Forensic Anthropologists
- Forensic Radiologists
- Forensic Entomologists
Our Forensic Scientific Services employs leaders in various specialty fields of forensic science including:
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is Australia’s most comprehensive forensic medical facility. We serve the Victorian community and the whole of the ‘Victorian Justice System’ especially the courts.
Our scientific and medical expertise is available to the legal and medical professions nationally and internationally. Much of our day to day work is for Coroners, Police and legal practitioners and in particular we provide credible and reliable expert forensic advice to courts throughout Australia and overseas.
Our doctors assess, treat and support victims of crime as well as alleged offenders and we provide families with specialist medical advice and services aimed at improving community health and safety. An important aspect of our work is the ethical provision of high quality human tissue grafts for transplantation.
Today much of forensic medicine is about public health surveillance and public health interventions. As a medical organisation we are committed to making our community a healthier and safer place to live.
The Institute exists to promote, improve and sustain forensic medicine and related disciplines through its service delivery, integrated teaching and research functions.
Our formal independence is vital in the provision of these functions.
At VIFM there is a Governor-in-Council appointed Board of Management, known as the VIFM Council. The Council is the governing body of the Institute and is constituted under the VIFM Act.
See Our Governance
We serve many masters, from bereaved families to Supreme Court Judges, with Coroners, police, legal fraternity, health service providers, the forensic scientific community and the general public in between.
Our role is perhaps best summarised in the words of the Head of Council, retired Supreme Court Judge The Hon John Coldrey QC,
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
Chairman, VIFM Council