Forensic Science SA (FSSA) was established in 1982 and provides services to some of South Australia’s largest government departments.


Contact details

Address
21 Divett Pl, Adelaide SA 5000

Business hours
9am – 5pm (unless otherwise arranged, deliveries will not be accepted outside these times)

Postal address
GPO Box 2790, Adelaide SA 5001

Tel: 08 8226 7700
Fax: 08 8226 7777

EmailFORENSICAdministration [at] sa.gov.au


Our charter

FSSA provides independent, high quality, expert scientific evidence, opinion and information to the justice system and community of South Australia.

To ensure the confidence of the community and users in what we do, we have these service goals:

  • high quality scientific analysis and interpretation
  • availability and impartiality to all justice system participants
  • cost-effective operations
  • timely reporting
  • accountable and transparent practices.

We achieve our goals when:

  • we work with clients to achieve efficient and probative services
  • we maintain accreditation to international standards and best practice
  • we implement  valid and contemporary technologies to continually improve our service capabilities
  • we provide opportunities for the professional development of our workforce.

We value:

  • delivering high-quality scientific services that provide public value
  • our diverse, committed, collaborative and highly capable workforce
  • a workplace conducive to high achievement where staff feel safe, valued, respected and supported
  • leaders who inspire staff through values-based actions
  • our links with academic institutions and our ability to deliver world-class forensic science through research, development and innovation.

We are successful when:

  • our services meet the needs of the justice system and are highly valued by our clients
  • our staff are proud to be part of FSSA, are highly engaged in their work and feel a sense of accomplishment from their contribution to the community of South Australia
  • advanced technologies are integrated into routine operations
  • our staff are recognised by our clients as professional, knowledgeable and impartial
  • our staff and organisation are recognised nationally and internationally for expertise in forensic science. 

Our goals

To ensure the confidence of the community and users in what we do we strive to provide the following service goals:

  • high quality analysis and interpretation
  • unbiased and available to all participants in the justice system
  • cost-effective
  • timely reporting
  • sensitive and ethical practices.

Scientific goals:

  • participation in relevant scientific learned societies, and collaboration with universities in both research and education
  • conduct research and development resulting in improved practices and publication in peer reviewed journals and presentations at national and international symposia
  • encourage professional and scientific development of staff
  • maintain National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accreditation.

History

FSSA was established by the Government of South Australia in 1982. It was formed within the Department of Services and Supply, at that time the provider of common services to the state government. It brought together a range of forensic science services that were provided by a number of areas of government:

  • police department (trace evidence, document examination, botany)
  • Institute of Medical & Veterinary Science IMVS (pathology, biology)
  • government chemist (chemistry, toxicology)
  • Australian Mineral Development Laboratories AMDEL (physical evidence, soil).

FSSA was incorporated into Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) in 2007. The FSSA director reports to the executive director, Legal, Legislative and Justice Services within AGD.


Clients

FSSA’s major clients include;

FSSA undertakes some work for other South Australian and interstate government agencies including the CTP Insurance Regulator, the Northern Territory Coroner, SA Health, Australian Customs Service, Australian Federal Police, Australian Defence Force and a number of non-government and private clients.


Quality

FSSA is committed to compliance with these standards in order to achieve its corporate goal of providing independent, high quality, expert scientific evidence, opinion and information to the justice system and community of South Australia.

The purpose of the quality system is to ensure:

  • the confidence of our clients and the community in the reliability of forensic science work undertaken on their behalf
  • compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements
  • continuous improvement.

The laboratory is committed to good laboratory practice and services to its clients and will respond in a timely and positive manner to any quality issues that are raised by them.


Accreditation

FSSA is accredited as a testing laboratory by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) in the fields of forensic science (AS ISO/IEC 17025-2005) and medical testing - forensic operations (ISO 15189). 

The scope of accreditation for FSSA is listed on the NATA website.


Placements and work experience

FSSA has strong linkages with universities, allowing students to undertake formal work placements required for their qualifications.

Registrars studying anatomical pathology and 4th and 5th year medical students from the Adelaide of University studying pathology complete 2-3 week placements in FSSA's mortuary observing the practices used when conducting post mortem examinations. The registrars later return for a 3 month placement for sign-off of Part 1 of their specialisation. 

For a variety of reasons, including the sensitive and secure nature of the work undertaken at FSSA, it is not possible to take students who wish to voluntarily undertake work experience. Opportunities do exist however, for students who have completed appropriate qualifications, to undertake one of FSSA's summer vacation scholarship 4-week projects, which are advertised through South Australian universities generally in November.


Exchanges

FSSA also encourages exchanges with other forensic agencies. If you are interested in seeking an exchange, please contact FORENSICAdministration [at] sa.gov.au.

Major Lobzang Phuntsho is the Head of Forensics for the Royal Bhutan Police and several years ago was the recipient of an Australia Awards Scholarship to study DNA technology at Flinders University in South Australia. He spent some time at FSSA during his stay. See a video about Major Lobzang. Currently a visiting pathologist from Myanmar is observing the practices used in our mortuary.


Research and development

FSSA has a proven track-record of publication in scientific and medical journals, which is a direct result of FSSA's active and committed research and development program. Staff co-supervise numerous Honours and PhD students, which can often involve a significant amount of time at FSSA. If you are interested in undertaking a post graduate project with FSSA, speak to your university.


Professor Ross Vining

Professor Ross Vining was Director of Forensic Science SA from 2008 -2012 before he tragically died when he was flying the light plane he built crashed over a very remote part of northern Australia. 

Ross made an indelible impression on FSSA during his time as director. He will always be missed and remembered by staff by the naming of our state of the art conference facilities and our annual awards ceremony in his memory.

In July 2011, Ross filmed a session for the CONASTA 60 conference, sharing the story of his career in forensic science. The session included examples of science conducted at FSSA such as DNA evidence and glass analysis.