2015/16 News & Events

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
More information and registration

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?


More information and registration

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.
More information about the film, trailer, and tickets and about the panel discussion

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.

Admission is free but registration required. Event details and registration

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.

Admission is free, RSVP required. More information

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).

Registration is free, but all attendees must register online by 4 December 2015.

Further information and program.
More information on the public forum.

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

To register, please email or call 02 9360 7999
Further information: Ilana McCorquodale
Symposium flyer and program

'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)

Registration essential - Admission: $15
Registration and further information

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

This event is FREE. Catering will be provided.
Registration / Event flier

Intensive Research Ethics Retreat, Sunday 31 May – Thursday 4 June 2015

Jointly run by the Centre for Ethics in Medicine and Society (CEMS), Monash University, and the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM), Sydney University

Peppers Craigieburn

Peppers Craigieburn

Location: Peppers Craigieburn, Bowral NSW
Organising Committee: A/Prof Ian Kerridge, Prof Paul Komesaroff, Prof Colin Thomson and Dr Kandy White

This intensive course is designed to assist researchers, ethics committee members and others involved in the conduct and assessment of research to understand and clarify the issues arising in relation to research of all kinds involving human participants. It will provide an opportunity for members of research and research ethics communities to come together to discuss the issues they face and share their experiences. The course aims to give registrants an appreciation of the philosophical and ethical issues underlying research involving human participants, an understanding of the issues relating to different research methodologies and research involving special populations. The program will be interactive and will include small group discussions and workshops. There will be ample provision for free time to encourage further discussion and debate among participants.

Further information:

The 2015 Memorial John McPhee Seminar, Monday, 4 May 2015

The Honorable Michael Kirby, retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, will discuss how human rights violations have negatively impacted on the people of North Korea and, specifically, impeded health care and contributed to poor health and malnutrition.

Venue: Griffith Duncan Lecture Theatre, Callaghan Campus, The University of Newcastle
Date and Time: Monday, 4 May 2015, 6.30pm

Free public lecture. More information