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New laws allow DNA tests of victims

VICTIMS OF disaster in Australia should be more easy to identify following the introduction of new legislation into federal Parliament. Laws authorising a DNA database system were announced by…

VICTIMS OF disaster in Australia should be more easy to identify following the introduction of new legislation into federal Parliament.

Laws authorising a DNA database system were announced by the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, last week.

Tabling a report into provisions in the Crimes Act 1914 that allowed the identification of victims of the Bali bombings, Ellison said such provisions would be extended to apply to domestic mass casualty incidents.

The report, by a committee chaired by Tom Sherman QC, recommends that the provisions be extended to apply to domestic “mass casualty incidents”, Ellison said.

Legislation to implement this recommendation was introduced last month in the form of amendments to Division 11A of Part 1D of the Crimes Act.

The committee made five recommendations to the Australian Government to extend and improve the application of the provisions. The remaining four recommendations will be considered by the Government, Ellison said.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Bali, Ellison said it was essential the Government did all it could to assist in the identification of victims.

“This report highlights the role of forensics in disaster victim identification and confirms that the Government’s response to the tragedy, by making the national DNA database system available for victims’ identification, was both necessary and appropriate.”

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