Forensic science students learn to investigate mass disasters

September 7, 2017

Murdoch University forensic science students will sharpen their crime and disaster scene investigation skills in Malaysia alongside forensic investigators who worked on the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17).

Murdoch forensic science lecturer Dr Paola Magni will lead a group of students to the elite Forensic Science Program at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) for a two-week intensive course that will significantly boost Australia’s capacity to respond to future mass disasters.

The project, Breaking down barriers for justice: an intercultural approach to Crime Scene Investigation, is funded by the Australian government’s New Colombo Plan Mobility Program that helps undergraduate students participate in practicums and research in the Indo-Pacific region.

Dr Magni said the initiative, which has been organised in collaboration with the head of UKM Forensics Dr Raja Zuha, has important strategic implications for Australia in the current global environment of growing terror attacks and natural disasters that involve victims from many nations.

“In disasters with mass casualties — such as a tsunami, plane crash or boat sinking -— forensic experts and law enforcement agencies from different nationalities and with varying skills often have to collaborate.

“As Australia’s budding forensic experts, these students will gain experience in working across jurisdictions with police, fire and maritime forensic agencies and be better qualified to represent Australia within the Indo-Pacific region.

“I’m particularly excited that students will have the unique opportunity of learning from terrestrial and aquatic forensic experts at UKM Forensics.

“This is a small but expanding discipline and there are only a few specialists in the world who can work in this environment.

“With the extent of people smugglers operating in the Indo-Pacific region and tragic boat sinkings and plane crashes, the outcomes of this collaboration will be extremely important for both countries.”

Dr Magni said the collaboration with UKM Forensics represents the beginning of a long-term bi-lateral partnership that will benefit both nations.

She is seeking external partners to provide additional in-kind or financial support to ensure the project’s ongoing success.


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