News & Events

Exploratory Workshop:

The Ethics of Complex Global Health Challenges: Practice and Theory in Dialogue

Global Health - Adivasi Village

Adivasi village, India. Photo credit Gerard van Stijn

2nd and 3rd March 2017

The workshop will be organized in dialogue form around the central question: How should evolving theories of global justice and global health ethics be put into practice in the face of current and future complex global challenges?

Discussion will focus on humanitarian aid during pandemics, migration & health and organ collection in China.

Click here for the event flyer.

New partnership with the Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin (AHHB)

Angus Dawson

VELiM has a new partnership with the Australian Hospital and Healthcare Bulletin (AHHB). The AHHB is a journal for all hospital, health and aged care professionals in Australia. VELiM has been commissioned to contribute a regular column on ethical issues.

The first of these written by Angus Dawson and Katherine Moloney argues that it is time for Australia to introduce ethical standards within hospital and aged care procurement policies to ensure that the manufacturers of health products, often children or poorly-paid workers in low-income countries, are not exploited. This is a key responsibility of all those involved in procurement and managing health institutions.

You can read the article (p.56-7) here:
or download a copy.

Chris Mayes receives DECRA Award

Dr Chris Mayes

Dr Chris Mayes, VELiM, has received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council. This will give him funding for three years to pursue a project on the history of bioethics in Australia. Project title: Bioethics in the Antipodes: a history of Australian bioethics since 1980.

Congratulations, Chris!

PhD Scholarship in genomic data sharing in Australia

AGHA logo

A scholarship for PhD candidature to undertake a project on legal, ethical and policy aspects of genomic data sharing in Australia is currently available, funded by the Australian Genomics Health Alliance and based at VELiM at the University of Sydney.
The successful candidate will undertake a mixed methods PhD project to help to determine a robust framework for genomic data sharing in Australia; addressing ethical, legal and policy considerations. The project will give rise to recommendations for policy-making regarding genomic data sharing across Australia (and its constituent jurisdictions). A key goal of the AGHA is to develop recommendations and pilot approaches for a National Data Repository of clinical genomic information, including national guidelines for scaleable, shared and standardised clinical genomics information.
The project will be supervised by A/Prof Ainsley Newson (University of Sydney), with additional supervision from A/Prof Clara Gaff (Melbourne) and other AGHA investigators. This is an excellent opportunity for candidates to gain valuable experience working in a rapidly developing research area on a large national cross-disciplinary project. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to develop a suite of research and analytic skills and an academic network that will help to prepare them for a research career in law or bioethics.
More information

PhD Scholarship in Wiser Healthcare

Wiser Healthcare

Novel imaging, biomarkers and genomic tests for risk assessment and early disease detection are changing how medicine is practiced in Australia and internationally. While delivering valuable advances in care and benefits for patients and their families, these new and emerging diagnostics can also have important negative consequences – overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Overdiagnosis occurs when commonly-used diagnoses in health and medical care, diagnoses that relevant health professionals would consider correct, do more harm than good. Overtreatment, which generally follows overdiagnosis, occurs when people get treatment they don’t need. We are seeking to fund a PhD candidate who is interested in working with a multidisciplinary team to answer the question: What can be done to prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment?

The PhD candidacy is based at VELiM, University of Sydney and associated with an NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence (CRE), Wiser Healthcare.

Details are at:

Further information can be obtained from .

Film Screening and Panel Discussion

title image to film

7 November 2016, 6.45pm

The film: "The Interrogation"; more information on the film including trailer and tickets
Panelists: A/Prof Michael Robertson (Panel Chair), psychiatrist, academic and Visiting Professorial Fellow, Sydney Jewish Museum; Prof Angus Dawson, VELiM Director, and Dr Avril Alba, Lecturer in Holocaust Studies and Jewish Civilisation, Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies, University of Sydney, and Sydney Jewish Museum. More information on the panel discussion.
Tickets available at the JIFF Website.
Organisers: VELiM in association with the 2016 Jewish International Film Festival, Sydney
Venue and date: Event Cinemas, Bondi Junction, NSW, 7 Nov 2016, starting at 6.45pm

Symposium: Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare

doctor with money pig

31 October 2016, 1-5pm

This symposium brings together a multi-disciplinary group of scholars to explore the ethical and policy implications of financial and non-financial conflicts of interest in medicine and public health. Four sessions will address conceptual and practical implications of conflicts of interest from clinical, policy, scientific and academic perspectives.

Organisers: VELiM, CAVE (Macquarie University), and the Bias and Research Integrity group (University of Sydney)
Venue: Medical Foundation Building, Sparkes Street, Camperdown, NSW 2050
Attendance is free but registration required via Eventbrite. For more information download the event flier.

Tuberculosis: Ethics, Law & Society

18 October 2016, 9am to 5pm

Tuberculosis prevention, control and treatment is often the subject of contention and debate. How should we respond when an individual chooses not to undergo lengthy treatment because they are worried about possibly serious side-effects? What are the implications of focusing on TB reduction and elimination given the concentration of this disease in disadvantaged and marginalised groups? How do TB patients feel? What are their experiences of TB treatment? How should we understand, and what can we learn from, the history of TB policy? What ethical issues arise from new drug developments and diagnostics? How do co-infection with HIV and TB and new forms of drug resistance create new problems, and how should we respond? - This workshop will explore Tuberculosis from many different perspectives, including ethics, law, human rights, sociology, history and anthropology. Speakers will discuss aspects of their own research and how these are of key relevance to thinking about Tuberculosis today and in the future.
Confirmed speakers include Dr Chris Degeling, Dr Bridget Haire, Dr Susan Hemer, Dr Paul Mason, Nola Ries, A/Prof Diego Silva and Prof Ross Upshur.

Organisers: Prof Angus Dawson and Kelly Prendergast
Venue: Centenary Institute, Missenden Road, Sydney
Attendance is free but registration required via Eventbrite.

Human Rights and Medical Goods Supply Chains: Working towards a healthier future

Dr Mahmood Bhutta speaking at TEDxUCL 2014

Dr Mahmood Bhutta at TEDxUCL 2014, sami_bouremoum, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

9 September 2016, 12 - 1pm

A panel discussion presented by The Healthy Supply Chains Initiative in partnership with VELiM.

The Healthy Supply Chains Initiative is a group working towards the ethical and responsible supply of medical goods in Australia. At present, many of the goods used in hospitals, clinics and aged care facilities around the country are produced in appalling conditions. Workers are poorly remunerated and routinely deprived of their labour rights and basic human rights. In many instances child labour is being used. The Healthy Supply Chains Initiative aims to enact effective supply chain regulation for medical goods. Precedents in Sweden and the United Kingdom have shown that ethical oversight can be incorporated into workplace procurement policies and government legislation and that making these changes is not only beneficial for the people producing medical goods, but is also low risk and low cost for procurers.
Guest speaker: Dr Mahmood Bhutta
Panel Moderator: Prof Angus Dawson

Venue: The Australian Human Rights Commission, Level 3, 175 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000
Date: Friday, 9 September 2016, 12 - 1pm
Please register your attendance with Katherine Moloney. Places are limited. For more information download the event flier.

A/Prof Stacy Carter wins research fellowship

Congratulations to A/Prof Stacy Carter who has been awarded a funded research fellowship to visit the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) Research Centre at the University of Newcastle, UK in 2017.

A/Prof Ainsley Newson wins Sydney Medical School Accelerator Award

August 2016: A/Prof Ainsley Newson is one of eleven outstanding mid-career teaching and research academics who won the inaugural Sydney Medical School Accelerator Award 2016. The Accelerator scheme provides funding of $50k to contribute to the research costs of projects currently in progress. Congratulations!

Whose mind is it, anyway? A conversation about the neuroethics of cognitive ageing

Cynthia Forlini

18 August 2016, 12-1pm

Neuroethics can be used as a lens to examine the ethical and social issues that arise from the recent prioritization of brain health to prevent age-related cognitive decline in the ageing population. Key topics of this seminar will be the role of neurotechnology and the balance of individual responsibility and collective benefits in delaying cognitive ageing.
Presenter: Dr Cynthia Forlini, ARC DECRA Research Fellow at VELiM
Venue: Brain and Mind Research Institute, Lecture Theatre, Level 5 Building F 94 Mallett St map
More information can be requested from Ed Hendriks

John McPhee Seminar 2016: What is the point? Bioethics, agitation and ‘getting in the way’

Prof Ian Kerridge

1 August 2016, 12-1pm

This presentation will focus on Harvard University psychologist Prof Steven Pinker's views on The Moral Imperative for Bioethics and open a conversation about the ‘point’ of bioethics. Pinker’s central thesis raises a series of important questions regarding the manner in which bioethics is functioning, the role that it should play – in research, practice, education and policy-making, and whether, in fact, contra Pinker’s anxiety, it is ever ‘in the way.’
Presenter: Ian Kerridge Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at VELiM, Staff Haematologist/Bone Marrow Transplant physician at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, and founding member of The Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law (CUEHL). For more information please email Camilla Scanlan.

Ainsley Newson edits special issue of Australasian Science

Associate Professor Ainsley Newson

A/Prof Ainsley Newson has guest-edited the July/August 2016 special issue of Australasian Science, an Australian monthly science magazine for the general public. The issue, Genomics, is dedicated to ethical and social issues in genomics. It includes several articles written or co-written by VELiM-staff, including A/Prof Ainsley Newson, Dr Wendy Lipworth, Dr Paul Mason, Dr Jacqueline Savard, Prof Ian Kerridge and Dr Tereza Hendl. Topics include: Genomic Testing as a Lifetime Health Resource?, The Ethics of Online Genomics Tests, Biobanks Go Global, and The Stem Cell “Sell”. The special issue is currently on sale at Newsagents.

Wiser Healthcare Research Collaboration

Wiser Healthcare logo

Funded by two related grants from the National Health and Medical Council (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 on Wiser Healthcare
More information on overdiagnosis

Sydney Ideas Events:

17 May 2016: Defending the Aussie Mozzie


Fossil showing Plasmodium Malaria. By Oregon State University CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Marie Bashir Institute in partnership with the Human Animal Research Network present a panel discussion on issues relating to the recent Zika outbreak and relevant broader, contextual features of human-mosquito relations. Questions of interest include: Is Zika a threat in Australia? What other threats are there to human health from mosquito-borne disease? Why are such threats growing rather than receding? What do we know about how human behaviour influences mosquitoes, and vice-versa?


  • Dr Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer, Marie Bashir Institute of Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, University of Sydney
  • A/Prof Tess Lea, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney
  • Prof Angus Dawson, Director of the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine

The Discussion will be moderated by Chris Degeling from the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine.

Date and Venue: 17 May 2016, 6.00pm - 7.30pm, Law School Annex, University of Sydney

30 May 2016: Is Too Much Testing and Treatment Making us Sick?

lab image

Sydney Ideas in partnership with the Sydney School of Public Health present a panel discussion on modern medical tests - imaging, biomarkers and genetic tests. Done in the right way at the right time, they can be lifesaving, and in the past often have been. But might they have become too good? Could some tests now be leading too much diagnosis and too much treatment? If so, what’s driving this? What might the consequences be for individual citizens, patients, their families and health care systems? And how can we fix it?


New book: Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe

Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe book cover

Prof Angus Dawson is one of the editors of the new book Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe. The collection contains background material and cases from public health policy and practice with contributions from twenty-three different countries.
The book highlights ethical issues and dilemmas that arise in the practice of public health. It is a tool to support instruction, debate, and dialogue regarding public health ethics. Although the practice of public health has always included consideration of ethical issues, the field of public health ethics as a discipline is a relatively new and emerging area. There are few practical training resources for public health practitioners, especially resources which include discussion of realistic cases which are likely to arise in the practice of public health. This work discusses these issues on a case to case basis and helps create awareness and understanding of the ethics of public health care. The main audience for the casebook are public health practitioners, including front-line workers, field epidemiology trainers and trainees, managers, planners, and decision makers who have an interest in learning about how to integrate ethical analysis into their day to day public health practice. The book is also useful to schools of public health and public health students as well as to academic ethicists who can use the book to teach public health ethics and distinguish it from clinical and research ethics.
The whole book is downloadable for free.

Holocaust Film Screenings and Panel Discussion

Two film screenings with panel discussions co-presented by the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine and the Sydney Jewish Museum in association with the 2016 Holocaust Film Series.


FILM 1: A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did
Date: Monday, 2 May 2016, 7:30pm

A Jewish human rights lawyer confronts the sons of high ranking Nazi officials who bear witness to their father’s actions, their guilt and implicitness in the Nazi regime.
More information about the film, trailer, and tickets and about the panel discussion

FILM 2: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
Date: Tuesday 3 May 2016, 8pm

An exploration of the 12-year journey undertaken by French director Claude Lanzmann to make his 1985 film Shoah, a nine-and-a-half-hour-long documentary about the Holocaust.

New Children’s book

Phương and An go to the doctor – An educational book about tuberculosis for children by Dr Paul Mason with illustrations by Amelia Darmawan

book feature illustration

Paul published this book on World TB day, 24 March 2016. Copies of the book will be distributed to 120 villages in Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam. The book has been published in English, Vietnamese, Tagalog, French and Portuguese, with more translations in the pipeline.

A beautifully written and illustrated children’s book that educates children about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. This book will help to encourage children with TB and their families to seek treatment, and decrease the stigma associated with this disease. - Dr Jennifer Ho, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Vietnam.

The audiobook is available on soundcloud. The book is also available in PDF-format (English version).

Sydney Ideas: BALL & Other Funny Stories About Cancer

Brian Lobel performing

Image Credit: Dr J.

Date: 14 March 2016
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Seymour Centre, Cnr of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale, University of Sydney

Drawing from ten years of monologues and spoken word performances, Brian Lobel presents an hour of humorous, provocative, interactive and thoughtful reflections on a history of cancer and the patient experience. - A Sydney Ideas event at the Seymour Centre co-presented with VELiM, the School of Public Health, and the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, all University of Sydney.

Special Presentation: "Unfathomable Journeys"

Date: 23 February 2016
Time: 1:00pm
Venue: Sydney Jewish Museum, 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Otto Walter portrait

Image Credit: Sydney Jewish Museum

Fifty years ago, eminent physician Dr Otto Walter abandoned life in Australia to return to Austria, leaving his crestfallen young grandson, Garry, to wonder why he had gone. - In this lecture, Professor Garry Walter AM explores the possible reasons for his grandfather’s departure, weaving in aspects of Otto’s extraordinary life, including his flight from Vienna after Kristallnacht, and his struggles to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in Europe. Otto was to settle in Palestine (later Israel), before coming to Australia in 1949 on the Cyrenia – serving as the ship’s doctor for Jewish refugees. In Australia, the consummate medical skills that had proven life-saving for Otto’s family, were not formally recognised, marking the end of a distinguished career.

Warwick Anderson receives History and Philosophy of Science Medal

Professor Warwick Anderson

8 Feb 2016:

Professor Warwick Anderson is being awarded the 2015 Royal Society of New South Wales History and Philosophy of Science Medal.

Structures of survival: Managing emerging infectious diseases in the twenty first century

Half-day Symposium

Date: Thursday, 10 December 2015
Time: 1.30pm - 7.00pm
Venue: New Law School, University of Sydney Main Campus

ebola virus image

The outbreak of Ebolavirus disease, which spread widely across three West African nations in 2014, and the delay and subsequent difficulty controlling it, offered a sobering preview of the potential impacts of other emerging or drug resistant infectious diseases in the twenty first century. This symposium will examine how socioeconomic, cultural and political systems contribute to the emergence, transmission and control of infectious diseases. Instead of focusing on pathogens and infection control measures, this symposium will explore the contexts that contribute to infectious disease outbreaks and to surviving them.

The symposium will be concluded by the public forum Surviving Ebola: facing the challenge with Professor Angus Dawson (Making good decision for West Africa) and Professor Catherine Womack (Ebola and health policy).

Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Date: 15 November 2015
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: Sydney Jewish Museum, 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

holocaust memorial

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

A seminar for medical and healthcare practitioners, students and scholars presented by the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine and the Sydney Jewish Museum.

Join academics and physicians in examining the evolution of medical ethics and the relationship between the profession and the state. Does the moral low point in the history of medicine provide guidance for today’s quandaries in medical ethics? What is the place of euthanasia and eugenics in contemporary society? - Participants will have the opportunity to engage with living witnesses to genocide.

A certificate of completion will be provided for CME points.

Early bird admission (until 30 Sept): $175
General admission: $195 (light lunch included)
Student concession: available on request

'Ich Klage An' - Film Screening and Discussion

Date: 7 October 2015
Time: 7:00 pm
Venue: Sydney Jewish Museum, 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

The Sydney Jewish Museum and the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine present 'Ich Klage An' ['I accuse'].


Hitler, Goebbels and others watch filming at Ufa, 1935

Under Nazism, members of the German public and medical profession enabled the systematic murder of the mentally and physically disabled. For the first time in Australia, see the film that sought to convince so many Germans of the program’s legitimacy…

Join us for a screening of the film followed by a special panel discussion featuring:

  • Professor Miles Little (Founding Director of VELiM)
  • Professor Ron McCallum (Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Law, The University of Sydney)
  • Professor Dany Celemajer (Department of Sociology and Social Policy, The University of Sydney)
  • Facilitated by Dr Avril Alba (Lecturer in Holocaust Studies and Jewish Civilization at the University of Sydney)

Ian Kerridge receives NHMRC Ethics Award 2015

Ian Kerridge headshot

22 September 2015: Congratulations to Associate Professor Ian Kerridge on receiving the NHMRC Ethics Award 2015. It's a mighty achievement.

The NHMRC citation:

"Associate Professor Kerridge has spent his entire career dissecting ethical issues in health practice and policy and promoting high ethical standards in health care and research. He was a member of the Legislation Review Committee that examined human cloning and the use of human embryos, and most recently, was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee and the Assisted Reproductive Technology Committee"

Reclaiming the Knowledge Commons: The Ethics of Academic Publishing and the Futures of Research


Date: Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Time: 9am – 4:30pm
Venue: State Library of New South Wales, Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Program: The symposium will comprise four sessions:

  • Corporatisation and the commercialisation of knowledge
  • Democratizing knowledge or selling the farm? The emergence and challenges of ‘Open Access’
  • Dissolving barriers – and boundaries: Scholars and the possibilities of the new digital knowledge commons
  • Taking up the challenge of ethical academic publication

Speakers: Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder, Professor Paul Komesaroff, A/Professor Andrew Bonnell, Dr John Byron, JoAnne Sparks, Professor Virginia Barbour, Rosalia Garcia (SAGE), and Professor Christopher Wright