About the ANZFSS

History

The Australian Forensic Science Society was formed in 1971 with the aim of bringing together scientists, police, criminalists, pathologists, and members of the legal profession actively involved with the forensic sciences. The Society’s objectives are to enhance the quality of forensic science by providing symposia, lectures, discussions and demonstrations encompassing the various disciplines within the science.

It was decided in 1988 that the Australian Forensic Society should recognise its New Zealand members and changed its name to THE AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND FORENSIC SCIENCE SOCIETY (ANZFSS).

Structure

Currently the Society boasts members from all states and territories in Australia, and both islands of New Zealand. There is a branch of the Society in each state and territory of Australia.  The New Zealand Forensic Science Society (NZFSS) comprises the New Zealand Branch of the ANZFSS.  The NZFSS also has local branches in Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. Each jurisdiction in Australia, and the NZFSS appoints a delegate (usually the local President) to the Council of the ANZFSS.  The President of the NZFSS is also a Vice-President of the ANZFSS.

The ANZFSS is managed by the Executive.  Its membership is decided at a Special General Meeting, or more usually, at the Annual General Meeting of the Society, which is held in conjunction with the Symposium every two years.  The Executive is elected for a period of two years and may stand for re-election at the next Symposium.  The Executive forms part of the Council of the Society, along with a representative from each jurisdiction (usually the Branch President).  The Council, which is the Society’s decision-making body, meets in person at each Symposium, as well as at least quarterly by teleconference.

The ANZFSS accepts membership from all persons with bona fide interests in forensic science, and it has drawn up a Code of Professional Practice for its members. Individual branches may produce regular newsletters that summarise recent activities and promote meetings and other events of interest. The Symposium is the major biannual event for the ANZFSS and each Branch is responsible in turn for organising this. In order to encourage members to participate in the Symposium, the Executive and individual Branches of the ANZFSS award scholarships to attend this meeting. The Executive also award scholarships to enable members to travel overseas to advance their education and experience in forensic science internationally. A further role of the Society is to organise and fund visits by forensic specialists from interstate and overseas.

Local Branches hold regular meetings and visits to places of forensic interest. These meetings usually involve lectures by experts in their field and provide opportunities for members and also guests (where appropriate) to meet in an informal atmosphere.

Branch meetings are organised by a local committee. This committee is elected at the Annual General Meeting of the Branch and comprises the Branch President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and other general members.

International Symposium

The society holds an international symposium every two years. The conference and its disciplines cover the major areas of forensic science: biological and chemical criminalistics, illicit drugs, pathology and clinical medicine, blood pattern analysis, fires and explosives, science and justice, firearms and toolmarks, education and training, archaeology and anthropology, entomology, odontology, wildlife forensics, electronic evidence, document examination, fingerprint examination, management and quality assurance, toxicology and pharmacology, crime scene investigation, and biometrics.

Other activities

The ANZFSS President, or nominee, has a standing invitation to attend the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is based in The Hague, The Netherlands, and has jurisdictional powers to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Trials and prosecutions have included members of the Serbian high command following allegations of genocide in the former Yugoslavia, and individuals accused of war crimes in Rwanda. The ICC is staffed by members of the legal community and deals with complex cross-jurisdictional allegations. The SAB provide assistance in regard to matters pertaining to forensic medicine and science. The SAB, comprised of Presidents of forensic societies around the world, meets annually in The Hague and also deals with matters ad hoc throughout the year. The ANZFSS plays its role in attending the annual meeting and responding to requests as required.

Standards Australia, formed in 1922, is Australia’s representative on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Many of the practices performed in forensic science adhere to an ISO standard; the standard relevant to calibration and analytical laboratories in ISO17025. The ANZFSS President, or nominee, sits on the forensic science sub-committee of Standards Australia, and was invited to sit on this sub-committee from its inception.

The sub-committee of  Standards Australia that is tasked with aligning Australian standards with ISO standards is CH-041, which is comprised of members with an interest in or professional relevance to quality standards. As a society, ANZFSS aims to embrace matters that maintain or increase the standards adhered to in forensic science.