The Ballarat Forensic Hub – Ministerial Response

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Original adjournment matter from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament – 

I direct my adjournment matter to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and the action I seek is for the minister to join me in Winter Valley in the Wendouree electorate to inspect the new forensic hub and meet the highly trained staff helping to fight crime in our community.

The new forensic lab is a great asset for Victoria, and it is located in the Ballarat West emergency services precinct next to the $8 million *Ballarat West police complex and the $5.8 million Lucas fire station that she opened earlier this year.

I look forward to inspecting the new state-of-the-art forensic facility, which will speed up forensic testing and help investigate crime faster in Ballarat and western Victoria. As a result of this new facility and breakthroughs in forensic technology, important scientific work will be completed closer to frontline police units.

This is great news for our community, as the time it takes to get the evidence back to police and prosecutors in the region will be significantly faster as we will no longer need to transport thousands of crime scene exhibits all the way to Melbourne to be examined.

I wish to thank the minister and the Andrews Labor government for investing $11.6 million in Ballarat and Morwell to establish these vital regional forensics labs. I look forward to hearing a response by the minister and hope to see her in Ballarat very soon.

Response from the Hon Lisa Neville MP Minister for Police and Emergency Services (13th August 2019) –

  • Extract from Hansard:

I thank the member for Wendouree for raising a matter with me about the forensic hubs. Victoria really leads the country in terms of our forensic services. The Morwell and Ballarat hubs were major uplifts, as have been our mobile forensic vans which are now on the road. These are significant investments in our regional communities, and it absolutely is about saving police time but also helping our forensic services play a really critical role in solving and disrupting crime in Victoria and doing it much more quickly, being at hand in the local community. As the member pointed out, I opened the new fire station at Lucas right there in that hub. I also opened the Ballarat West police station. So not only will I be pleased to visit but perhaps the member and I could also officially open the forensic hub in Ballarat very, very soon.

  • Further response provided 19 September 2019:

I thank the Member for Wendouree for her interest in the new forensic hub in Ballarat and agree this is great news for the community. I toured the facility prior to its opening in May and am confident this investment will have a significant impact on crime investigation.

As part of the $596 million Public Safety Package announced in the 2016-17 Victorian Budget, Victoria Police received funding of $11.6 million for the establishment of the two forensic hubs.

In the past, the forensic science work in rural and regional Victoria has been primarily crime scene examination and fingerprints. This meant thousands of exhibits from crime scenes have had to be transported to the central laboratory in Melbourne for forensic examination, including illicit drugs, DNA and other trace evidence analyses.  This resulted in delays for the delivery of critical forensic information to frontline police.

The establishment of the Ballarat Forensic Hub will allow police to process evidence collected from crime scenes more efficiently, allowing faster provision of forensic results, assisting with the early disruption and prevention of crime.

The Ballarat Forensic Hub is staffed by 11 Forensic Officers and one VPS staff member. The Forensic Officers perform multi-disciplinary evidence recovery and preliminary analyses across a range of forensic disciplines including biological, chemical, digital, botanical, and fingerprint services.

The Victorian Government is committed to giving Victoria Police the resources it needs to keep our community safe. The government’s record $3 billion police investment is delivering 3,135 new sworn police officers, as well as state-of the-art intelligence systems, new technology, new and upgraded police stations, and stronger laws.

I look forward to visiting the hub when I am next in Ballarat with the Member for Wendouree and acknowledge the strong advocacy she has provided for this critical police infrastructure in Ballarat West.