Australia’s forensic taphonomy facility
The Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) is a unique body donation facility dedicated to the study of forensic taphonomy in Australia. Forensic taphonomy is the study of human remains from the time of death to the time of discovery. This field of science aims to solve problems surrounding the physical, chemical, and biological processes of human decomposition.
Facility unique to Australian conditions
Until now, human decomposition has only been studied in the USA at facilities colloquially known as ‘body farms’. These facilities carry out research through the invaluable donation of willed bodies to forensic science. Due to the distinct climatic, ecological and geological variation that we experience in Australia, a need was recognised for a facility that was representative of Australian conditions to better assist local police investigations.
In 2016, AFTER officially opened as the only facility of its kind in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere. AFTER represents a multidisciplinary collaboration between academic, police and forensic agencies, who have members regularly involved in death investigations.
Contribution to society
AFTER will enable our researchers and practitioners to improve their understanding of the human decomposition process and assist police and forensic investigators to search for, locate, recover, and identify victim remains.
The research will also enhance our ability to estimate time since death. Such research is important for investigations involving missing persons, as well as victims of homicide, genocide, and mass disaster.
Donors to AFTER contribute to the most integral part of this work and our research would not be possible without their invaluable contribution to forensic science.