Famous cases look to the future of forensic science

The world of forensic science steps out of the blue light of TV drama and into reality for two public nights being held as part of the 20th International Symposium on the Forensic Sciences in Sydney from 5 to 9 September.

The real-life players in a pivotal American case for the collection of DNA evidence in sexual assault investigations will present their story on Monday 6 September while two days later famous and infamous cases in Australia and New Zealand will be reviewed by leading forensic scientists.

Symposium Chair, Professor Claude Roux from the University of Technology, Sydney's Centre for Forensic Science, said the public presentations would be a window on the symposium's examination of the future of forensic science.

"In many respects, today's forensic science is at the crossroads," Professor Roux said. "You need a lot more than a chemistry or biology degree to be an effective forensic science investigator and we are now considering such questions as whether forensic science should support or lead investigations and the contribution of this discipline to actual and perceived security."

DNA Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases – Crime Victim Debbie Smith's Story (Sponsored by Life Technologies)

Date: Monday 6th September
Time: 6.30pm – 8pm
Venue: Bayside Auditorium A, Level 1, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour

Everything changed for American rape victim Debbie Smith when the man who had raped her 6 years earlier was identified through DNA evidence.

As her assailant was already in jail, DNA gave Mrs Smith final proof that he would not "come back" for her, as he had threatened. Debbie Smith will present her story and how her case prompted changes in legislation (The Debbie Smith Act of 2004 and The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008) related to the collection and analysis of DNA in sexual assault cases in the USA. Mrs Smith's husband, Robert, who was a law enforcement officer at the time of the crime, will also present his perspective on the effects of crime on secondary victims and how DNA has impacted them.

To learn more about Debbie Smith please visit http://www.h-e-a-r-t.info/

From Chamberlain to the Recent DNA Challenges – Have we Learnt our Lessons?

Date: Wednesday 8th September
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Venue: Bayside Auditorium A, Level 1, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour

Renowned forensic scientists will re-visit famous Australian and New Zealand cases – Australia's Chamberlain, Splatt and Bropho and New Zealand's Operation Rex – and their impact on many aspects of forensic science.

Speakers will include Dr Tony Raymond, Professor James Robertson, Dr Keith Bedford and Dr Simon Walsh. They will explain how far forensic science has moved since Chamberlain, but will also identify areas that remain challenging.

Cost: There isa $20 fee on both nights for non-delegates.

The symposium is presented by the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS). For more visit the website: http://www.anzfss2010.com/