Issue 12, May 2017 Subscribe to our newsletter 

Finding the DNA of the unknown Diggers 

They made the ultimate sacrifice for our country on the battlefields of WWI and WWII. Tragically, an estimated 35,000 of our fallen soldiers remain unidentified. 

Now an important partnership between NSW Health Pathology's forensic experts and the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties unit (UWC-A) is providing fresh hope for the identification of our unknown soldiers – in some cases, 100 years after they went missing in battle. 

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In a national first, NSW Health clinicians can securely access electronic NSW Health Pathology test results in a single statewide system - a great example of how we're committed to delivering smarter better services.

Tests ordered from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and The Children’s Hospital at Randwick are now being shared via HealtheNet. 

HealtheNet is now live at more than 200 NSW Health facilities and gives instant access to pathology test results and a summary of a patient’s recent medical history.

HealtheNet also passes clinical data to the national My Health Record. This means that NSW is the first state or territory to add pathology results to My Health Record. 

Pathology results are being integrated to HealtheNet in a staged approach. Test results for our other LHD customers will be available as the year progresses. 

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Construction has begun on the $91.5 million NSW Forensic Pathology & Coroner’s Court in Lidcombe. 

Our forensic medicine teams work with the Coroner’s Court to provide the answers and care people need when faced with the unexpected or unexplained loss of a loved one. 

The new facility will provide a better working environment for staff and offer a more appropriate and modern space to support grieving families. Some of the new forensic medicine features include: 

  • A designated multi-faith room for families
  • A specific room to support smoking ceremonies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families 
  • Additional counselling rooms, including a family-sized room to accommodate larger families
  • New MRI technology, which will complement our current CT scanning capability. These technologies help us meet our obligations under the Coroners Act 2009 to determine cause of death in the least invasive manner. In some cases it can also help determine cause of death faster and minimise distress for some families.

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Many of our staff are involved in research, collaborative partnerships and innovative projects that make a difference to our communities.

We want to do more to build knoweldge and capacity while also ensuring NSW Health Pathology is at the forefront of new tests, technologies and scientific discoveries.

To demonstrate our commitment in this area, we have developed a Research & Innovation Framework, will form a dedicated Research & Innovation Advisory Committee and will more actively promote our exciting research projects. 

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Our experts Professor Dominic Dwyer, Dr Cameron Webb and Professor Bill Rawlinson presented some of their research at this year’s Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases.

Joining fellow infectious diseases experts, they helped lead the exchange of important research that is protecting community health and safety through prevention, diagnosis and management of infectious diseases.

Professor Dwyer and Dr Webb presented the first plenary session to a packed room and shared their latest research into Zika and other mosquito-borne infections. 

Professor Rawlinson presented results of his collaborative research on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) which has led to the development of a consensus guideline published by The Lancet (Infectious Diseases) in March.

We shared their efforts with a wider audience via our media channels. See the coverage here.


NSW Health Pathology has partnered with the University of Technology of Sydney to establish the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) - a unique body donation facility dedicated to the study of human decomposition and forensic science.

A first in the Southern Hemisphere, the facility is a partnership between 14 academic, police and forensic agencies to engage in innovative research that helps build knowledge and capacity in the way death investigations are conducted in Australia. 

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