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 is an Honorary Life Member of the Criminal Bar Association of Victoria and has served as a judicial member of the Forensic Leave Panel and the Adult Parole Board of Victoria.

In 2011 the Victorian Bar Council created ‘Coldrey Chambers’ – a set of barristers’ chambers named in his honour. In 2013 John Coldrey was made an Honorary Fellow of Monash University. He joined the VIFM Council in 2008.

Professor Noel Woodford - Ex Officio Member

Noel Woodford, Director of VIFM

Professor Noel Woodford is the Director of the VIFM, a position he has held since July 2014. He first joined the VIFM in 1998 as a Fellow in Forensic Pathology, after training in anatomical pathology at the Alfred and Royal Melbourne Hospitals. In 2000 he worked as a senior lecturer in forensic pathology at the University of Sheffield, returning to the VIFM in 2003. In 2008 Noel was appointed Head of Forensic Pathology. 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 RANZCR and vice-chair of the Forensic Pathology Advisory Committee of the College. Noel has a particular interest in sudden unexpected natural adult death and the application of radiological techniques in forensic pathology.

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

Luke Cornelius Head shot2

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius leads the Victoria Police response to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission 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 the Chief Commissioners 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 Hinchey5

County Court Judge Sara Hinchey is the Victorian State Coroner. Prior to her appointment as a County Court Judge in May 2015, her Honour had extensive experience as a barrister, appearing in numerous high-profile inquests, as well as maintaining a broad-ranging practice including commercial law, occupational health and safety, corporate crime, professional negligence and professional disciplinary matters.

Her inquisitorial experience included briefs in relation to the Royal Commissions into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. Throughout her career, her Honour regularly appeared in the higher courts of Australia including the Federal and High Courts.

Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth, Council Member - Nominee of the Chief Justice

Elizabeth Hollingworth

Elizabeth Hollingworth studied law in Western Australia, and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. She was a solicitor for four years, until she joined the Victorian Bar in 1991. She was appointed senior counsel in 2002.

She is a current or past member of various bodies, including the International Commission of Jurists, the Council of Legal Education and the Public Interest Law Clearing House. She is a Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

She has taught judges, practitioners and students in a broad range of subjects, including advocacy, evidence, procedure and judgment writing. Appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2004, she sits in criminal and civil trials and appeals.

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

Professor Robert Conyers has recently completed his appointments as Clinical Director, Chemical Pathology, at St John of God Pathology Geelong (7 years) and a Member of the AMA Victoria Board (Treasurer). He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, SPHPM, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University. Bob undertook his specialist pathology training at Sydney Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and his DPhil research as a Nuffield Medical Fellow at the University of Oxford on the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. He has held the positions of: Senior Consultant Pathologist and Head of the Metabolic Research Group at the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide; Director of Biochemistry, Alfred Hospital and Head of the Cardiac Metabolic Laboratory, Baker Medical Research Institute; Executive Director of Pathology for the North West Health Care Network (which included pathology services at Royal Melbourne and Western Hospitals); and Executive (Group) Medical Director for the Gribbles Group in Australasia.

Bob’s 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. He has
held senior positions on major hospital committees, in professional and scientific associations (including the Council/Board of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia), and on peak government advisory committees in relation to diagnostic pathology and animal welfare.

Bob also holds a Graduate Diploma of Business, a Masters degree in Business Leadership and a Fellowship of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Neil Robertson - Nominee of the Minister of Police and Emergency Services

Neil Robertson is the Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management at the Department of Justice and Regulation. He also holds the position of the Chief Executive of Emergency Management Victoria. Neil has worked in the Department of Justice for over 15 years in a variety of roles including: Executive Director, Police and Emergency Management (August 2011 – March 2014); Coordinator, Bushfires Royal Commission (March 2009 – August 2011); Director, Criminal Law Policy (October 2004 – March 2009); and Assistant Director, Legislation and Policy, Justice Policy.

Before joining Justice, Neil worked as the Manager, Executive Support in the Chief Commissioner of Police’s office. Neil has 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.

Neil was awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2011 “for outstanding public service and leadership through the provision of innovative legal policy in a diverse range of areas”. These areas include criminal law reform – particularly relating to family violence, organised crime, counter terrorism and evidence – corrections, and emergency services. His PSM citation also recognised his “exemplary support to Government in responding to and implementing the report of the Bushfires Royal Commission”.

Neil was also a Director and Company Secretary of Crime Stoppers Victoria Ltd from 1993 to 2012.

Professor Christina Mitchell  – Nominee of the Council of Monash University

Christina Mitchell is the Vice President and 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 the University of Melbourne 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 – Nominee of the Minister for Community Services

Tracy Beaton-3

Tracy Beaton is the Chief Practitioner and Director of the Office of Professional Practice at the Department of Health and Human Services. She leads the Office to promote and safeguard the rights, best interest and quality of life of vulnerable Victorians through practice leadership and development. Tracy provides expert advice, consultation and leadership to review of complex cases, impacting children and families in child protection, and others in need of human services.

Tracy joined the then Department of Human Services in 2008 as Chief Mental Health Nurse with a focus on policy and practice to enhance recovery and ethical care of vulnerable Victorians. She has a number of academic publications and presentations with her most recent publication in August 2016 where she contributed to a legal academic text addressing Family Violence and the Law in Victoria. Since 2011 Tracy has held an appointment with La Trobe University as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Health Science.

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

Mari-Ann Scott is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the VIFM. She joined the Institute in 2007, and was responsible for securing government funding which saw the doubling of the operating budget for forensic operations, and $38 million to rebuild the VIFM’s facilities.

As COO Mari-Ann reports to, and works in close partnership with the Director. This “two at the top” model means that the VIFM’s Director takes the primary responsibility for building the organisational vision, policy, strategy, service delivery outputs and external relationships. The COO provides day-to-day leadership of the Institute, as well as supporting and advising the Council and the Executive & Finance Committee on corporate governance and financial and risk management. Mari-Ann is the VIFM Council’s Executive Officer (Board Secretary).

Prior to joining the VIFM Mari-Ann held the role of Relationship Manager in the Budget and Financial Management Division of the Department of Treasury and Finance. Before that she has worked in
a number of other senior roles in government and the health sector. Her areas of expertise and interest include leading and improving operational performance, strategic planning, corporate governance and organisational relationship management.

Mari-Ann is an economist by training. She holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Health Economics and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr. Tim Fitzmaurice – Nominee of the Chairman

Tim Fitzmaurice holds the position of Executive Manager Governance and Assurance and Chief Risk Officer for the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). Tim has held a number of senior roles at the TAC in the areas of finance and accounting (as Chief Finance and Accounting Officer), assurance and compliance, investments and information technology.

Tim is a qualified accountant and a fellow of the Certified Practi sing Accountant (CPA) and holds a Graduate Certificate in Compliance Management from the Australasian Compliance Institute (ACI). Tim is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Risk Management Institute of Australia (RMIA).

Dr Lee Hamley – Nominee of the Minister for Health

Lee-Hamley edit

Lee Hamley 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 and 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.