The Australian Federal Police has been using forensic tech and ‘databases’ to find missing persons, and the AFP has been given the green light to continue the program.
Advancements in forensic science, Associate Professor Jodie Ward said, can provide fresh hope for previously unsolved cases and resolution for families with loved ones still missing.
“Just being able to identify one person, to be able to give answers to one family, would make this all worth it – but we have now surpassed that goal,’’ Ward said of the AFP’s forensic tech program.
“However, there’s more work to be done. The extension will allow the Program team to generate investigative leads for many more cases in order to discover who these unknown Australians are and reunite them with families missing them.”
The National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons was launched in July 2020 using Confiscated Assets Account funding (money seized from illegal operations).
The program aims to match human remains with long-term missing persons. DNA profiles recovered from the remains have resulted in five matches to long-term missing persons to date, the AFP said. But, there are 750 sets of human remains still unknown. Although only five have been matched, the AFP said the program has assisted with 55 state and territory police cases.
“As well as searching dental records and DNA profiles looking for matches, our forensic specialists can use new tools to estimate an unidentified individual’s year of birth and death, predict ancestral origin, hair and eye colour and facial appearance, and find genetic relatives,” Ward added.
The program’s success relies on the families of every long-term missing person providing police and forensic investigators with vital information, records and samples for comparison. It has been extended for another 12 months to help bring closure to many more families.