Sydney Health Ethics


Sydney Health Ethics (previously known as the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine - VELiM) is a research and teaching centre within the School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney.

Since our establishment in 1995, we have become one of the largest bioethics centres in Australia and internationally.

Sydney Health Ethics Team


Our team includes academics, research fellows and research students working on a wide range of ethical issues. These include public health ethics, clinical ethics, research ethics, animal ethics, the ethics of biotechnology including genetic technology and genomics, and the ethics of drug policy and development.

Sydney Health Ethics also has a long history of conducting empirical social science research, often informed by and informing ethical questions. We have a thriving program of empirical and theoretical research funded by the NHMRC, ARC and other sources.

We teach two postgraduate coursework programs, Qualitative Health Research (until 2015) and Bioethics (ongoing).

Vote for Marriage Equality!

Sydney Health Ethics Votes Yes


It is extremely disappointing that the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor have chosen not to commit the University of Sydney to supporting marriage equality in the current postal survey.

At Sydney Health Ethics, we believe that this issue is a simple matter of equality. Any couple who choose to express their commitment to each other in the form of marriage should be free to do so. To hold that anyone’s sexuality is grounds for exclusion from access to this particular social institution is a form of discrimination.

Whilst individuals should be free to express their own views on this matter, they should always be conscious of the impact that their words may have on others. To argue that taking a positive stance on this issue could have ‘a potentially chilling impact on debate’ is to suggest that any minority’s rights to equality can be legitimately challenged. This is unacceptable because there is no neutral position on issues of equality. For this reason, there is, ethically speaking, nothing to debate.

It is unfortunate that a previous government deliberately chose to introduce the injustice of marriage inequality. Righting this wrong should have been the task of the federal parliament, but action was not taken. Once the decision was made to proceed with the postal survey, a strong stance in favour of equality would have been appropriate and would have ensured support and protection for those who could be harmed by hate speech.

We call on the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor to rethink their position and commit the University of Sydney to leadership on this key issue of equality.

New Student Grant – open to ALL University of Sydney students

For a project that connects creative arts or humanities with health or medicine

From community singing to analysing cli-fi, from narratives of autism in modern fiction, to making art with artists with disability, intersections between the humanities, arts and health are growing. The Harold and Gwenneth Harris Endowment for Medical Humanities, known as The Harris Foundation, is currently offering 2-4 grants to fund student projects in these areas. Funding will be provided for any project where the creative arts intersect with health and/or the humanities. For some project ideas see the Application Package, section Project Examples.
The grant is open to all current students at the University of Sydney, in any Faculty, and at either Undergraduate or Postgraduate level. Grant holders will be known as the ‘Harris Fellow’. Applications from groups of students who would like to collaborate on a project are encouraged.
Value: up to $3,000 per project
Application deadline: Sunday, 22nd of October 2017 (midnight)
Further information: download Application Package [PDF]
Apply: download Application Form [Word Doc]


A/Prof Ainsley Newson in the Media

A/Prof Ainsley Newson on ABC TV

On 22 November 2016, A/Prof Ainsley Newson appeared on ABC TV’s Lateline program to discuss the ethics of testing for Down syndrome. Click on the image above to access the video and transcript.


Wiser Healthcare logo

Funded by NHMRC, a group of collaborating researchers from the University of Sydney, Bond University, Monash University and international colleagues launched Wiser Healthcare, a collaboration which aims to conduct research that will reduce overdiagnosis and overtreatment in Australia and around the world.
More information