Our Governance

Video: Forensics and the Judiciary – The Hon John Coldrey QC, Chair of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Council.

The VIFM Council

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine is a statutory  authority reporting to Parliament through the Attorney-General. 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 1985. The Council comprises 12 members (10 of whom are appointed by the Governor in Council) and an Executive Officer. The Chairman is appointed by the Attorney General from the Council members.

The Hon John Coldrey, QC – Chairperson and Nominee of the Attorney General

John Coldrey QC

Since becoming a barrister in 1966 John Coldrey has contributed to many different areas of the legal profession throughout Australia.  Following his appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions for Victoria in 1984 he became a Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court in 1991 where he served until 2008.  He was also active in the Northern Territory where in his role as the Director of Legal Services for the Central Land Council he was involved in the grant of Aboriginal title to Uluru as well conducting Aboriginal land claims and negotiating major industry agreements with the Northern Territory Government and mining companies.

John Coldrey has written numerous major conference papers and legal publications relating to the operation of the criminal law.  He has been a member of various committees and councils including chairing the Consultative Committee on Police Powers of Investigation. In 2004, John Coldrey was awarded the Gold Medal of the International Society for Reform of Criminal Law (of which he is a Board member) in recognition of his contribution towards criminal law reform. He has also served as a judicial member of the Adult Parole Board. In 2013 John Coldrey was made an Honorary Fellow of Monash University. He joined the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Council in 2008.

Professor Noel Woodford - Ex Officio Member

Noel Woodford, Director of VIFM

Noel was appointed the Director of VIFM on 30 June 2014. He is also the Head of Medico-Legal Death Investigation Services at the institute. He leads a team of forensic pathologists in addition to specialists in paediatric pathology, radiology, odontology, anthropology and entomology. Having trained in anatomical pathology he spent time at the Institute as a Fellow before heading to the UK where he was appointed senior lecturer in forensic pathology at the University of Sheffield. He returned to the Institute 7 years ago. He is a Fellow of both the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the Royal College of Pathologists (UK), holds the Diploma of Medical Jurisprudence from the Society of Apothecaries of London, and gained a Master of Laws from Cardiff University during his time in the UK. Noel is an examiner for the RCPA and oversees the Quality Assurance Program in Forensic Pathology for the College.

Luke Cornelius APM, Assistant Commissioner, Victoria Police, Nominee of the Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police

Luke Cornelius Head shot2Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius leads the Victoria Police response to the VEOHRC Review into sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including predatory behaviour, among Victoria Police personnel. Luke also leads Partnerships and Innovation across the Victoria Police.

Luke is a member of Victoria Police Command and the Victoria Police People, Culture and Safety Governance Committee. He is also a member of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Council, The Victorian Donor Tissue Bank Management Committee and is the Chief Commissioner’s representative on the Blue Ribbon Foundation Board.

Luke served as a Federal Agent for 14 years with the Australian Federal Police, with roles in Drug Operations, Legal Policy, East Timor and Human Resources, concluding his service as their Director, People Strategies (with the rank of Commander). Luke has also served as the National Secretary of the Australian Federal Police Association and was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Police Federation of Australia.

Luke was awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) in the 2010 Australia Day Honours List for distinguished service to policing in recognition of his contribution to police reform in the Federal Police and the Victoria Police, the promotion of: ethics and integrity in policing, human rights, engagement with vulnerable communities and for his contribution to capacity building in East Timor.

Luke has also been awarded the National Police Service Medal, National Medal, Police Overseas Service Medal, United Nations Medal for service in East Timor and medals for service with the AFP and Victoria Police. He was also awarded a Commissioner’s commendation for outstanding service while serving with the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor.

Luke holds a Masters of Public Administration: Executive (Monash), an Honours Degree in Law: First Class (Flinders), a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (ANU) and is admitted to practice in the ACT Supreme Court.

Judge Sara Hinchey, Ex Officio Council Member

Head shot of Judge Hinchey5County Court Judge Sara Hinchey is the Victorian State Coroner. She has appeared before the Coroners Court in some of the state’s most high-profile inquests. Her inquisitorial experience also extends to appearances before two Royal Commissions including the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Sara Hinchey was appointed as a Judge of the County Court in May 2015 following more than 19 years’ experience as a trial and appellate barrister. During this time, she also appeared in the higher courts of Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and the ACT, as well as the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia. Her areas of interest include occupational health and safety, corporate crime, construction law, medical and other professional negligence, and professional disciplinary matters.

Judge Irene Lawson, Council Member - Nominee of the Chief Justice

Irene LawsonJudge Lawson was appointed to the County Court in 2002.  Prior to her appointment she was a Partner at Slater & Gordon where she specialised in civil litigation primarily medical negligence litigation. In 1999 she became an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law of the Law Institute of Victoria.

She participated in the development and implementation of the firm’s Code of Conduct by which such litigation was practised.  Her practice comprised individual based claims against doctors and other Health Care Providers involving a range of cases that covered the breadth of litigation involved in this area from birth trauma litigation to nervous shock claims.  She was actively involved in responding to various public inquiries relating to the provision of professional indemnity insurance and medical negligence issues.

Her past Directorship roles include the University of Melbourne Council (2001-2012), the Global Learning Village Advisory Board (2003-2012) and a number of community based organisations. Her current role includes a Directorship of the Melbourne University Law School Foundation.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Felicity Broughton - Nominee of the Minister for Women’s Affairs

Deputy Chief Magistrate Broughton has served as Victorian Magistrate since 2000, as Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal Supervising Magistrate from 2001 to 2004, as Supervising Magistrate for the sexual assault portfolio of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria since the establishment of the portfolio in 2006 and as Supervising Magistrate for Family Violence and Family Law from 2011.
She is currently a member of the State Government’s Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, the Child Witness Service Advisory Committee and the Statewide Advisory Committee to Prevent Sexual Assault.
From 1981 to 2000 she was a solicitor in private practice, with particular experience in matters relating to sexual assault, family violence and other issues relating to violence.  She served as a member of the Victorian Community Council Against Violence from 1994 to 2007 and as a member of the Legal Professional Tribunal from 1997 to 2000.  She was also a board member of the Children’s Protection Society from 1993 to 2000 and served as President from 1996 to 1999.

Professor Robert Conyers, Senior Consultant Pathologist - Nominee of  the Attorney-General

Professor Robert Conyers is currently a Senior Consultant Pathologist at PathCare, Geelong and holds Non-Executive Director positions as a Council member at VIFM; and as a Board Member (Treasurer) of AMA Victoria. He received his specialist training at Sydney Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and was then awarded a Nuffield Medical Fellowship to the University of Oxford where he completed his DPhil on the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism.
Returning to Australia, he was Senior Consultant Pathologist and Head of the Metabolic research Group at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide. He then became the Director of Biochemistry, Alfred Hospital and the Head of the Cardiac Metabolic Laboratory, Baker Medical Research Institute. His metabolic and nutritional research has been into oxalate urolithiasis, cancer cachexia, exercise (sports) energy metabolism and metabolic support of the heart in surgery and transplantation.
His last position in major teaching hospitals was as Executive Director of Pathology (1994-1998) for the North West Health Care Network (which included Royal Melbourne and Western Hospitals). He then became Executive (Group) Medical Director (1998-2005) for the Gribbles Group which had pathology services across Australia and in New Zealand and Malaysia.
He is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University and has additional qualifications in business and board directorship. He has held senior positions on major hospital committees, in professional and scientific associations, and on peak government advisory committees in relation to diagnostic pathology and animal welfare.

Neil Robertson, Executive Director, Police and Emergency Management, Department of Justice – Nominee of the Minister of Police and Emergency Services

Neil Robertson is currently the Executive Director, Police and Emergency Management in the Department of Justice.
Neil has worked in the Department of Justice for 15 years in various roles including the Director, Bushfires Royal Commission Coordination, and Director, Criminal Law Policy.
Prior to joining Justice, Neil worked as the Manager, Executive Support in the Chief Commissioner of Police’s office.
Neil’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Bachelor of Laws from Monash University, Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from Swinburne University of Technology and Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australian and New Zealand School of Government. He is also a Fellow of the Williamson Community Leadership Program and was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday 2011 Honours.
Neil is a member of the Institute’s Executive and Finance and Audit and Risk Management Committees. He is also a Director and Company Secretary of Crime Stoppers Victoria Ltd.

Professor Christina Mitchell, Dean, Faculty Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University  – Nominee of the Minister for Community Services

Christina is the Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. Christina trained as a physician scientist specialising in Clinical Haematology. She received her medical training from Melbourne University and consultant training in Haematology at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne. Her advanced clinical training in Haematology included a PhD characterising the natural anticoagulants protein C and protein S. Her post-doctoral studies were undertaken in the field of intracellular signalling at Washington University Medical School, St Louis, USA.
In 1999 she was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Monash University and, in June 2006, was appointed Head of School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University. In June 2008, she was awarded the position of Sir John Monash Distinguished Professorship in recognition of her contribution to Research at Monash University.  In October 2011, she commenced as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Monash University.   Her current research is focussing on characterizing novel tumour suppressor genes in breast and prostate cancer that regulate oncogenic PI3-kinase signalling.

Ms Tracy Beaton, Council Member – Nominee of the Minister for Community Services

Tracy Beaton-3Ms Tracy Beaton is the Department of Health and Human Services Chief Practitioner and Director of the Office of Professional Practice. She leads the Office to help improve the quality of lives of people who access human services. Tracy Beaton provides expert advice, consultation and review of complex cases impacting children in child protection, youth justice and others in need of human services.

Tracy Beaton joined the then Department of Human Services in 2008 and as Chief Mental Health Nurse focused on policy and practice to enhance recovery and ethical care of vulnerable Victorians. She was responsible for the gender sensitivity and safety project for mental health, and the development of an evidence based guideline: Working with the suicidal person. Clinical practice guidelines for emergency departments and mental health services. In addition she introduced Victoria’s Framework for Recovery-oriented Practice for mental health. The Framework enhanced current policy directions, knowledge, skills and attitudes for contemporary practice and service delivery. More recently she led the Department’s work on reducing the use of restrictive practices and the implementation of the Safewards clinical practice model in the Victorian Mental Health Service.

Tracy Beaton has a number of academic publications and presentations including many keynote addresses and conference presentations addressing issues of vulnerability and practice. Most recently, she has contributed to a legal academic text addressing Family Violence and the Law in Victoria, due for release in August 2016. Since 2011 she has held an appointment with La Trobe University as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Health Science. She holds a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Arts (Applied in Nursing), a Graduate Diploma in Professional Practice, and other qualifications in health, mental health and psychiatry related fields.

Ms. Mari-Ann Scott, Chief Operating Officer, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine – Executive Officer

Mari-Ann Scott joined the Institute in 2007. Over the last 10 years she has held a number of senior management roles in the government and in the health sector. Her areas of expertise and interest are in leading and improving operational performance and service delivery, strategic planning, corporate governance and organisational relationship management. As Chief Operating Officer, Mari-Ann reports to, and works in alignment and close partnership with, the Director. This “two at the top” model means that the VIFM’s senior leaders can focus together on continuously improving our forensic services, at the same time as meeting our corporate compliance obligations and improvement goals. Mari-Ann is the VIFM Council’s Executive Officer (Board Secretary).

Prior to joining the Institute, Mari-Ann held the role of relationship manager in the Budget and Financial Management Division of the Department of Treasury and Finance and before this she held a range of senior positions in the health sector. Mari-Ann is an economist by training. She holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Health Economics.

Mr. Tim Fitzmaurice, Chief Finance and Accounting Officer, Transport Accident Commission (TAC) – Attendee

Tim is currently the Executive Manager Enterprise Risk & Program Office for the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). Tim has held a number of senior roles at the TAC in the areas of enterprise risk and assurance management, finance and accounting (as Chief Finance and Accounting Officer), investments and information technology. Tim is a qualified accountant and a fellow of the CPA. He is also a member of Institute’s Audit and the Executive Management Committees.


Dr Lee Hamley, MBBS, FRACMA, MBA

Lee-Hamley edit

Lee has been working in public hospital management in Victoria for over 20 years in medical administration and general management.  In July 2006 she joined Alfred Health as Executive Director Medical Services at The Alfred & Chief Medical Officer Alfred Health.  Her previous senior appointments include at Eastern Health as Chief Medical Officer & General Manager of Acute Services & Box Hill Hospital and before that in similar roles at Northern Health.  Lee’s current role includes professional responsibility for Alfred Health’s medical staff and responsibility for diagnostic services, pharmacy, medical workforce, medical education, clinical governance and legal support services.  She is the Executive Director responsible for patient safety & quality and chairs a number of committees including the Alfred Health Infection Prevention Committee.


Our Guiding Principles for Corporate Governance

VIFM Council has adopted the following guiding principles of corporate governance:

  • Lay solid foundations for management and oversight
  • Structure the Council to add value
  • Actively promote ethical and responsible decision-making
  • Have a structure to independently verify and safeguard the integrity of the Institute’s financial reporting
  • Recognise legal and other obligations to all key stakeholders
  • Establish a sound system of risk oversight, management and internal controls.

Establishment of VIFM and Guiding Legislation

The Institute is established under section 64 of the VIFM Act 1985.  The Institute is bound by this and other statutory instruments, including, but not limited to the Coroners Act 2008, Human Tissue Act 1982, the Public Administration Act 2004 and the Financial Management Act 1994. In accordance with these, the Institute provides forensic medical and scientific services, tissue transplant services, and teaching and research.

Established in 1987, the Institute exists to promote, improve and sustain forensic medicine and related disciplines through its service delivery, integrated teaching and research functions. Over twenty-five  years from its beginnings, VIFM:

-          provides independent forensic medical and scientific services to the Victorian public and justice system;

-          facilitates increased knowledge through teaching and research; and

-          enables the provision of high quality human tissue grafts for transplantation.

VIFM’s formal independence is vital in the provision of these functions.

Council Committees

The Council has four committees to ensure compliance with legislative, accreditation and other regulatory requirements.

  • The Executive and Finance Committee
  • The Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • The Ethics Committee
  • The Donor Tissue Bank Advisory Board

The composition and terms of reference of these committees is included in Appendix A.


Senior Executive Group

The VIFM’s Executive team provides the highest level of management and comprises:

Noel Woodford, Director

See biography under Council above.

Mari-Ann Scott, Chief Operating Officer

See biography under Council above.

David Ranson, Deputy Director Forensic Services

David Ranson has been with the VIFM since it was formed in 1988 and is currently the Deputy Director responsible for the Forensic Services Division of the Institute which provides Forensic Pathology, Clinical forensic Medicine, Forensic Toxicology, Molecular Biology, Mortuary Technical services and Coronial Admission and Enquiry services for the State of Victoria. Both a medicine and Law graduate he is a specialist in Forensic Pathology and Clinical Forensic Medicine and regularly provides specialist expert opinion evidence to courts and official enquiries. He currently coordinates the Medical Law program for medical students at Monash University.

David obtained a first class honours degree in Medical Sciences (Pathology) from The University of Nottingham and in Law from the University of the West of England. After qualifying in Medicine he has worked as a pathologist at various hospitals in England and for many years was a lecturer in Pathology at Bristol University. He also practised clinical forensic medicine as a Police Surgeon to Avon and Somerset Constabulary and as a Forensic Physician to Victoria Police. He has published over 100 medical and legal papers and is the author and co-author of a number of book chapters and text books in the fields of medical law and forensic medicine and pathology including “Death Investigation and the Coroners Inquest” with Dr Ian Freckelton QC (Oxford University Press 2006).

He is a Fellow of both the Royal College of Pathologists of Great Britain and of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia. He holds the Diploma in Medical Jurisprudence of the Royal Society of Apothecaries (Forensic Pathology). He is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian College of Legal Medicine, the Faculty of Clinical Forensic Medicine of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians in the UK. David has been heavily involved in establishing research units aimed at preventing avoidable death and injury, namely the National Coronial Information System and he is a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee.

David has been involved in a variety of international humanitarian activities relating to disaster victim identification most recently assisting with the identifications of the victims in the loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.


Richard Bassed, Deputy Director and Senior Forensic Odontologist, Head Academic Programs

Richard is the Head of Teaching and Training, as well as Senior Forensic Odontologist and coordinator of Identification Services, at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Melbourne, Australia. He has a Bachelors degree in Dental Surgery from the University of Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University. Richard is a Fellow of the Faculty of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology within the RCPA, and is the course coordinator for the Monash University Masters of Forensic Medicine. Richard has extensive experience in disaster victim identification, both nationally and internationally, regularly presenting at international conferences and publishing in the forensic medical literature.

Richard’s research interests include; forensic dental aspects of post-mortem dual energy CT interpretation, development of new population specific age estimation protocols to assist with the determination of the legal status of unknown age asylum seekers, craniofacial superimposition for identification, mass disaster victim identification, and evidential aspects of bite-mark analysis.


VIFM as a Statutory Authority

Statutory authorities exist to perform functions in the public interest or for public purposes. Their powers are conferred by an Act of Parliament, and their functions and authority are derived wholly or principally from the Act which establishes them or from subordinate legislation. Statutory authorities do not always perform advisory or regulatory functions for Government: they may have commercial or semi-commercial functions.

The decision to establish the VIFP as a statutory authority with its own board of management was one of the original recommendations of the reviews of the late 1970s. The statutory model was intended to improve Victoria’s coronial system by ensuring the provision of high quality forensic pathology services and reliable forensic evidence for coroners and the courts. The model was also intended to create a centre of medical excellence and to raise the standard of forensic medicine in Victoria to the highest in Australia, as well as securing and sustaining an adequate supply of highly skilled specialist forensic pathologists by establishing post graduate forensic pathology training.

VIFM is unique among Australian forensic medicine and forensic pathology providers in being established as a statutory authority. In other jurisdictions, forensic service providers are usually operational units within government or hospital health departments or, in the case of forensic science units, within police departments. Although it is a medical and scientific organisation the Institute is located with the Department of Justice a placement that recognises the primacy of our work for the Justice System.

VIFM’s status as a statutory authority gives it a significant degree of institutional independence. This helps ensure that VIFM provides an unbiased and credible services to the courts.

Our Legislation

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine serves the courts and community in accordance with the Institute’s statutory objects and functions as set out in the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine Act 1985.