11-14 Nov 2014 | The Langham Hotel, Melbourne, Victoria | Asia Pacific Coroners Society Conference 2014


Program Highlights - What are the big questions?

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Wednesday 12 November

Welcome to Country
Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin is an Indigenous Australian and Senior Wurundieri Elder of the Kulin alliance in Victoria, Australia. She has given the traditional Welcome to Country greeting at many Melbourne events and to many distinguished visitors where she says in the Woiwurrung language "Wominjeka Wurundjeri Balluk yearmenn koondee bik" – Welcome to the land of the Wurundjeri people.

Unsolved Murder - Who took Linda?
Linda Stilwell was a cheerful, happy go-lucky 7-year-old when she disappeared in St Kilda in 1968. Victorian Deputy State Coroner Iain West and a leading Victoria Police Homicide Squad detective provide analyse the forensic investigation into her disappearance and presumed death. The presentation includes an account of a hospital bed-side coronial hearing with infamous child killer Derek Percy, in the days before his death, in a bid to uncover who took Linda.

Why weren’t they found?
In 2007, Victoria Police created the Belier Taskforce, a specialist team of investigators whose task was to reconcile more than 600 long-term missing person reports, some dating back to the 1950s, with unidentified human remains. A presentation by a leading Belier Taskforce detective will outline how the Victorian coronial process assisted police in their investigations and answer the question as to why so many remained on the missing persons list long after their remains were found.

Do you swear to tell the truth?
When the search for the truth sometimes paves a road to self-incrimination, Coroners can find their investigations on rocky ground. Highly regarded Melbourne barrister and expert in coronial law, Dr Ian Freckelton, provides an astute account on issues surrounding privilege against self-incrimination in the Australian coronial context.

Thursday 13 November

Prescription drugs - Too much of a good thing?
In Victoria, prescription drugs accounted for 82.9% of almost 400 overdose deaths in 2013. Victorian Coroners Prevention Unit researcher Dr Jeremy Dwyer will present the latest data and Coroner Audrey Jamieson will chair a panel discussion emerging trends in prescription medication deaths including benzodiapines, opioids and takeaway methadone.

Trigger Point – What is the cost of up holding the law?
Renowned Melbourne journalist and crime writer John Silvester provides a rare behind the scenes insight into his documentary Trigger Point, which examines a number of deaths in police custody. More than 25 interviews with victim’s families, police officers involved and high ranking officials examine the human cost involved when up holding the law ends in the loss of human life.

A split diagnosis – How difficult is it to identify aortic dissection?
In Victoria, more than 40 deaths a year are caused by aortic dissection – yet a diagnosis is often not made until after the fatal event. Victorian Coroner Paresa Spanos examines the phenomenon and the clinical expertise required to make a timely diagnosis in the context of recent coronial investigation.

Friday 14 November

Suicide Deaths – Who’s really at risk?
New data from the Victorian Suicide Register combined with information from leading mental health experts creates a powerful presentation as to who is actually most a risk of suicide. The session includes information and commentary on the frequency of suicide deaths in middle aged men.

When Crime Pays
Professor of Communication and Media Studies Sue Turnbull will present a fascinating session on the representation of crime in the media including crime fiction and the television of crime dramas.

Asia Pacific Coroners' Society Conference 2014