About The Australian Society of Forensic Odontology
Forensic Odontology is the application of dental science to the law and encompasses areas such as human identification, investigation of orofacial trauma and bitemarks, and opinion on dental issues. It involves the recognition, documentation, interpretation and presentation of evidence.
The Australian Society of Forensic Odontology, Inc. was established in 1983, as the Australian Society of Forensic Dentistry.
Its objectives are to:
- advance the study of forensic odontology and its application to the law;
- advance the science of forensic odontology and promote practice standards;
- promote high quality and timely forensic odontology services to assist the Australian Coronial and Justice systems;
- maintain a roster of forensic odontologists who are available to deploy to mass disasters as required by relevant authorities;
- act as a conduit for forensic odontology deployments in mass disasters;
AuSFO is a society open to any dental professional of good standing with an interest in forensic odontology. It has no legislative or administrative function, but aims to represent forensic odontologists in their interactions with stakeholders. In this context it is the overarching body facilitating the involvement of member forensic odontologists in DVI, both nationally and internationally.
An information flyer is available by clicking: AuSFO_flyer_(2)
Odontology In Australia
Members of the Society supply an odontology service for each State and Territory in Australia. Practitioners provide expert opinion to police and the legal profession. The majority of cases involve confirmation of the identity of deceased persons reported to the Coroner.
The Society is closely allied with each State and Territory Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) police unit and has been involved in all major Australian and regional multiple death investigations.
The Society liaises with the National and State Missing Person Units to help resolve long-term missing persons cases.
Australian Odontologists Internationally
Bali – following the terrorist bombing attacks in 2002 which killed 202 people, including 88 Australian citizens, the Society rostered members to assist Australian Federal Police (AFP) in the investigation into the disaster. Over 60% of the identifications of all deceased persons were achieved by dental comparisons.
Thailand – following the December 2004 tsunami which affected many countries in South East Asia, Australian forensic odontologists were deployed, many in Team Leader roles, for the duration of the identification process as part of the AFP identification operation. Again, over 60% of the identifications were solely or partly attributed to dental findings provided by international forensic odontology teams.
Indonesia – following the plane crash in Jogykarta in 2007 which involved the deaths of Australian journalists, aid workers and AFP representatives, the Society provided members to assist in the identification of those killed.
Congo – a member of the Society was deployed to the Congo in 2010 following the plane crash involving mining company Sundance Resources.
Papua New Guinea – A PNG Airlines aircraft crashed during a violent rainstorm in 2011 near Madang, PNG, killing 28 people, many of whom were the families of theology students attending a thanksgiving ceremony. The victims were identified by DNA, but a Society member was part of the DVI team.
Samoa – More than 180 people, including five Australians, lost their lives in a tsunami which impacted the coasts of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga in Sept 2009 Society members were deployed with AFP in the first response team.
MH17 – Odontologists from the Society were deployed to the Netherlands to assist in the identification of victims of Malaysian Airlines MH17 that crashed in July 2014, presumed to have been shot down. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board were killed.
This is a very thoroughly researched, interesting and informative account of the development of forensic odontology in our country and in the different individual states and territories written by Dr Anthony W Lake.