Home' InDaily : November 18th 2010 Contents Vol 21 No 10 November 2010 | 7
Engineering success across the board
Super decisions based on ignorance
Flinders School of Computer Science,
Engineering and Mathematics (CSEM) is
celebrating a host of awards and successes
among its staff, students and graduates.
The Medical Device Partnering Program
(MDPP), based at Flinders, was awarded the
Service to the Electronics and ICT Industry
Award at the Technology Industry
Association’s 2010 awards night in
recognition of its service to the medical
The award citation recognised that the
MDPP, led by 2010 SA Professional Engineer
of the Year, Professor Karen Reynolds, has
given medical device companies and
inventors access to relevant experts via a
single point of contact.
“These experts are sourced from across the
State, and include engineers, scientists,
clinicians and other medical staff,” the
citation said, commending the program for
its capacity to create carefully crafted and
mutually agreed project plans that assist
commercialisation while serving to keep
The MDPP was also recently shortlisted for
a Business-Higher Education Round Table
For the second time in two years, Flinders
first year engineering students have won
the State Final of the Engineers Without
Ronald Brakels and Matthew van der
Wijngaart made the winning presentation
of a project that also included Vy Nguyen,
Jonathon Walters and Nathan West.
They proposed and built a prototype
biochar system aimed at enriching poor
sandy soils in the Murra Murra and
Bendee Downs region of South Western
Queensland. The team will represent SA
at a national conference later this year.
Further demonstrating Flinders strength
in the biomedical field, engineering
student Lachlan Eberhard has won this
year’s SA and NT Institution of
Engineering and Technology Rex Johns
It is the twelfth time in 15 years that a
Flinders engineering student has won
the award for excellence in the
presentation of a final year project.
Former Rex Johns Presentation Prize
winner, Churchill Fellow, Fulbright
Scholar and now CSEM academic, David
Hobbs was part of a team that won a
prestigious da Vinci Award in the United
States for the Virtual Music Instrument,
an innovative augmented reality
program that turns movements into
sounds so people with limited movement
and ability can play music.
In addition to this impressive list of
honours, a 35 per cent increase in
applications for undergraduate
engineering courses has given the Dean
of the School, Professor John Roddick
even more reason to celebrate.
“There’s certainly a very good feeling in
the School at the moment,” Professor
New research shows young Australians are
making decisions about superannuation
without understanding the full implications.
Flinders University commerce honours
student Tahlia Parrish has conducted an
extensive behavioural survey of university
students to discover why they choose
particular superannuation packages.
She found the majority simply lack the
financial knowledge to make a considered
judgement, with more than 80 per cent
opting for a scheme chosen for them.
Ms Parrish conducted the research after
winning a Brian Gray Scholarship from the
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
(APRA) and Reserve Bank of Australia. She
has also won a position with APRA, the
financial services industry’s prudential
regulator, starting next year.
“Two years ago the School took a deliberate
decision to create niche areas aligned with
the State Strategic Plan,” he said.
“We chose to focus on the emerging areas
of biomedical engineering and defence
including intelligent systems and robotics.
“Our aim was to attract students who
want to move into the areas in which the
State is heading. It seems to be working.”
Professor Roddick congratulated staff
and students for their achievements in
2010, which he believes augurs well for
“I think success breeds success. We need
to keep doing what we’re doing.”
As part of her research, Ms Parrish
received permission from different
course coordinators to address students
at different schools across the campus.
She handed out questionnaires to more
than 400 people and received 360
effective responses, a high rate of return.
“Surprisingly for young people, most
seemed risk averse and would select
lower risk superannuation options even
though that might not be the correct
decision for a long-term investment,” Ms
“I would have expected them to go for
high risk because of the high returns, but
they tended to opt for the low-risk option
even if the probabilities of a negative
return were exactly the same,” she said.”
Professor John Roddick
6 | Vol 21 No 10 November 2010
There’s more to crime than getting tough
Righting the wrongs of justice
Imposing long sentences of incarceration
on criminals may give a sense of
“problem solved”, but the reality is that
convicted criminals will be released and
will require reintegration into society,
according to Professor Willem de Lint.
Professor de Lint, newly appointed to the
Flinders Law School, argues that models
of criminal justice, including strategies
around policing and sentencing, need to
be underpinned by evidence-based
research rather than by an urge for
retribution or a desire to “incapacitate”
people who have committed a crime.
Professor de Lint, who gained his PhD
from the University of Toronto, has
taught at universities in Canada and
New Zealand and now heads the
Criminal Justice stream within the
Flinders law course. His research focuses
on policing and security, including
People are right to express their feelings
of outrage about crime, but should not
see harsh sentencing as an automatic
consequence, Professor de Lint said.
“You have to disaggregate the outrage
from what is done as a response,” he said.
Languishing in a prison cell wrongly
convicted is a plight no-one should face.
Yet miscarriages of justice are not
uncommon in Australia and, once the
normal appeal process has run its course,
the innocent will struggle to win a
reprieve, even with new evidence.
Now in a co-authored book that has
attracted support at the highest levels of
the legal profession, Bibi Sangha, a senior
law lecturer at Flinders University, is calling
for a new criminal cases review system.
Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages
of Justice is groundbreaking in that it
examines wrongful convictions and the
judicial processes in three common law
jurisdictions – Australia, Canada and the
Ms Sangha and her co-authors,
Australian legal academic Dr Robert
Moles and Canadian Professor of Law
Kent Roach, present a strong case for
reform in Australia.
“Unlike Canada and the UK, our Courts of
Appeal refuse to reopen cases once they
have been heard, even though
“The ‘tough on crime, tough on crooks’
approach is not supported as a remedy
by the evidence.
“The idea that they’re going to disappear
is wrong, and the time they spend in
prison does contribute to the kind of
person you are bringing back into society
at some point .
“We need to work out ways to ready them,
and ourselves, for that return.”
Professor de Lint said electoral
expediency discourages politicians from
raising the complex issues around crime
and punishment, and that academics
have a duty to speak out in debates
about criminal justice policies.
Professor de Lint is working to set up a
collaboration between researchers at
Flinders and State criminal justice
practitioners, including the police, courts
and correctional services, to promote
best practice justice capabilities and
“In particular, we don’t want young
people to become enemies of the state,
to start justifying their behaviour
because they are treated so badly by the
authorities,” Professor de Lint said.
compelling new evidence may prove
someone is innocent,” Ms Sangha said.
“Likewise the High Court says that
constitutionally it cannot hear fresh
evidence in criminal cases. The only
option left is to petition the Attorney-
General who can refuse without giving
The authors are particularly critical of the
way forensic evidence is presented and
the risk that it can lead to wrongful
convictions. They believe courts should
have greater control to decide scientific
reliability, particularly in cases where the
science is evolving and is potentially
Another key recommendation is the
introduction of a body similar to the
British Criminal Cases Review
Commission. It would have powers to
investigate possible miscarriages of
justice and refer appropriate cases to the
Court of Appeal.
The idea has the support of Ann
Bressington, an independent member of
the South Australian Legislative Council,
who introduced a private members bill
into State Parliament this month.
“We should be promoting justice
applications that are grounded on
efficiency, transparency and equity.”
Another possible initiative at Flinders
will be the introduction of postgraduate
courses in forensic investigations and
financial prosecutions, with an emphasis
on money tracking.
“The best way to take down any kind of
organised crime is to interfere with the
money flow,” Professor de Lint said.
Such a body also has the backing of one
of Australia’s most distinguished legal
figures, former High Court Justice
In his foreword to the book he says: “It
would re-affirm the commitment of our
society to the highest standards of
justice and law in all serious criminal
Professor Willem de Lint
Dr Robert Moles and Bibi Sangha
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