Speakers » Emma Wagner

Emma Wagner 

Forensic Document Examiner, Document Examination Unit, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australia

Non-secure security documents…or none at all!

(Government only session)

  • Examination of identity and other supporting documents that contain no high-security features;
  • What can we evaluate and how reliable is it?
  • What about when there are no original documents, only copies, scans or attachments to online applications?

While Australia has enviably low numbers of improperly documented arrivals at its airports, the country’s document examination laboratories are overwhelmed with casework, and are still feeling the effect of the spike in arrival of asylum seekers by boat between 2009-2013, many of whom arrived with no documents of identity or in support of their claims.

The variety and quality of documents received for examination has been challenging but in many cases they are simply as good as it gets from these source countries.  With the person already within Australia’s borders it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to verify who they are. And sometimes there are no physical documents at all…we have found ourselves thrown in to the world of assessing non-original documents, which has seen some interesting challenges and cases come our way.

However, it is not only the asylum seeker caseload that presents this latest challenge. Increasingly, departmental services are offered online, and identity and supporting documents are accepted electronically. This is a necessary step in today’s online world, but how do we handle the potential for document fraud in this electronic caseload?


Emma Wagner is a Forensic Document Examiner employed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Her role is to provide a document examination service across the entire department including at our Airports for arriving passengers, but also to visa and citizenship processing areas, where clients may present a range of identity and other documents.

Her role also includes delivery of training in document examination and assessment techniques to DIBP officers and external agencies.

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