Shortly after the October 2002 Bali bombings, Senior Sergeant Ken Rach from Brisbane was on site as part of the police joint investigation and disaster victim identification program known as Operation Alliance.
Using his specialist skills and drawing on his more than 20 years experience in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), Senior Sergeant Rach played a major role in the development of a DVI response plan within hours of arriving and was also quickly coordinating the post mortem/mortuary phase of the response.
"It was a learning experience," Senior Sergeant Rach says. “Obviously it was very, very sad but it was a good experience to know we could do the work away from the comforts of home and away from the technology we usually have to assist us.
"It showed, as far as DVI is concerned, that compared with the rest of the world we rate very, very highly."
In the aftermath of the bombings, Senior Sergeant Rach went to Bali on four separate occasions for a total of 58 days deployed overseas.
His career in DVI began in 1981 when he was appointed part-time as a member of the newly formed Queensland Police Service Disaster Victim Identification Squad, and in 2001 he was appointed as the full-time State DVI Coordinator. At that time, he was the only police officer in Australia dedicated to a full-time DVI position. The Queensland squad currently consists of Senior Sergeant Rach and 24 part-time officers.
"DVI is just what we do, the only difference in Bali was we were offshore and it was a little bit dangerous, but it’s just what we do," he says.
Senior Sergeant Rach believes his OAM is really recognition for the whole DVI squad – as well as for their families – rather than just for himself.