Six New Zealand Police Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) specialists are travelling to Victoria today to assist in the aftermath of the bushfires disaster.
They are due to arrive in Melbourne this evening (Wed Feb 11th) and will then be deployed by Victoria Police.
The team will be working in a variety of roles, including the recovery of the victims, anti-mortem information retrieval, mortuary assistance and reconciliation.
They will initially be deployed for a period of three weeks, although the work of identifying the victims of the bush fires is likely to take many months.
The team is led by Senior Sergeant Richard McPhail of Invercargill, who was part of the New Zealand Police contingent sent to Thailand following the 2004 tsunami:
"In tragedies like this identification tends to be done through dna, dental records and fingerprints."
"It is meticulous work in difficult conditions. The identification process can take many weeks and it is vital we work accurately. But the reward is being able to reunite families with the bodies of their loved ones." he said.
The DVI team has been sent after an offer of help by Acting Commissioner Rob Pope was accepted by Victoria Police.
"We are very pleased to be able to provide assistance to our colleagues in Victoria at this tragic time" said Acting Commissioner Pope.
New Zealand Police formed a National DVI Team in 2002 following the Bali bombings.
Team members have been deployed to Solomon Islands, Thailand, and more recently two members went to France to assist in the recovery of the victims from the Air New Zealand Airbus crash.
The National DVI Team is made up of 14 Police and 3 forensic specialists.
New Zealand is an active member of the Australian New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency Disaster Victim Identification Committee (ADVIC) and has an established relationship with Victoria Police.
Editors note: Please direct any enquiries to the media team at Police National Headquarters. Any interviews with the team will be subject to their availability and the advice of Victoria Police.