News and Events

SPHPM blog interview with Associate Professor Bebe Loff

Get to know Kirby Centre Director Associate Professor Bebe Loff in her interview on the Monash School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine blog. Bebe discusses the Kirby Centre's projects and how she came to pursue a career in health, human rights and ethics.

To read more click here.


One Year On: Our HeLP Patient Legal Clinic

The Michael Kirby Centre's Health-Legal Partnership project saw the implementation of the HeLP Patient Legal Clinic at The Alfred Hospital with our partners, Alfred Health and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The HeLP Clinic, which is funded by the Legal Services Board, has seen over 250 patients in just over a year! Listen to Dr Liz Bishop discussing the launch of the clinic on 3CR here.


Bebe Loff in India: 5th National Bioethics Conference and Yenepoya University

In December 2014, Associate Professor Bebe Loff spent a busy week in India, visiting the cities of Bangalore and Mangalore.

On the 11th of December, Bebe attended the 5th National Bioethics Conference in Bangalore. The three day conference, held under the aegis of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME), allowed both Indian and international speakers and delegates to explore the themes surrounding integrity and corruption in healthcare and research.

Following the conference, Bebe travelled to Mangalore to visit Yenepoya University’s Centre for Ethics on the 14th and 15th of December where she was invited to share her expertise in bioethics at a consultation workshop. At the conclusion of the workshop, a tree was planted in Bebe’s honour by the Centre for Ethics. The following day, on the 16th of December, Bebe visited Yenepoya University’s Medical School at the invitation of Professor Vina Vaswani, Head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, to speak at a Tea Room Discussion with students, clinicians and university professors. Bebe presented on and led discussion covering aspects of the Indian justice system, crime scene investigation, forensic medicine, maintenance of medical records, ethics and human rights.

Bebe continues to collaborate with the Kirby Centre’s partners in India on the topic of cross-cultural ethics, which can be read about here: monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/michael-kirby/research/research-program


Dr Liz Bishop discusses children and medical procedures on ABC's Radio National

Listen to The Kirby Centre's Dr Liz Bishop discuss children and medical procedures on Radio National's "The Body Sphere". Liz speaks about her own experiences and describes how the stress and anxiety faced by children undergoing medical procedures can be alleviated when parents are better integrated into their child's treatment.

Listen to the full interview here: abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bodysphere/children-and-medical-procedures/6082244


ILGA's 27th World Conference – "De-colonising Our Bodies", Mexico City

Kirby Centre’s Cheryl Overs attended the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) World Conference from 27 October to 31 October 2014 in Mexico City. The theme of the conference was "De-colonising Our Bodies" to guide its topics around the human rights and health of gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender and intersex people. Cheryl contributed to discussions about the role of law and medical ethics in reducing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The symbol of the Conference, Tlazoltéotl, is a Huasteca goddess representing transformation, lust, sins and filth. This goddess was chosen by ILGA for her transgressiveness; a force to empower and transform the world.

Here is Cheryl Overs pictured with community leaders from Jamaica, Mexico and Liberia.


Dr Liz Bishop discusses mounting pressure for inquiry into international surrogacy trade

On 9 October 2014 Kirby Centre’s Dr Liz Bishop spoke to Glen Bartholomew on ABC’s NewsRadio program about mounting pressure for a national inquiry into the commercial surrogacy trade following the most recent Indian surrogacy saga concerning twins born to an Indian surrogate for an Australian couple who rejected one due to the child’s gender. The interview explores the need for a more consistent position in Australia regarding what is important and necessary for children born through surrogacy in both Australia and overseas. Liz highlights the vulnerability of surrogate mothers overseas who are often exploited and how the rights and interests of children born of surrogacy arrangements are least prioritised in current debates. Listen to the full interview here: abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4103584.htm


Research Symposium hosted by the Kirby Centre and the Burnett Institute

On 17 October 2014, the Kirby Centre, in conjunction with the Burnett Institute, hosted a Research Symposium on behalf of the ACIDF Universities Network. Kirby Centre Director, Associate Professor Bebe Loff, opened the event with a welcome note to the symposium, which explored ethical issues related to research in certain vulnerable populations including women affected by intimate partner violence; prisoners; people who inject drugs; sex workers; and men who have sex with men. Speakers included experienced researchers with varied expertise in the Australian context and in resource-constrained countries. Bebe discussed ethical implications for research aimed at women affected by intimate partner violence and sexual violence in a session chaired by Jo Crawford of IWDA. Following this, Kirby Centre’s Cheryl Overs explored research ethics in the context of sex workers in a session chaired by Bebe. The symposium presented an excellent opportunity for researchers and audience members to reflect on and discuss the importance of ethical considerations specific to each population.


Bebe Loff and Liz Bishop discuss ethical issues in transfusion support in the critically ill at TORC Annual Seminar

On 19 September 2014 the Transfusion Outcomes Research Collaborative (TORC) held its annual seminar to discuss “Transfusion Support in the Critically Ill”. The Kirby Centre’s Dr Liz Bishop appeared as a panellist for the fourth session of the seminar entitled “Ethical Issues in Transfusion Support in the Critically Ill”. The panel discussion, which also included panellists Dr Chris Hogan from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service; Ms Anissa Yttrup from Barwon Health and Dr Deirdre Murphy from Alfred Health, was chaired by Kirby Centre Director, Associate Professor Bebe Loff.


Liz Bishop and Bebe Loff examine children’s rights in surrogacy arrangements in The Conversation

Kirby Centre’s Dr Liz Bishop and Associate Professor Bebe Loff discuss the rights of the child in commercial surrogacy arrangements in The Conversation. Read the full article entitled “Making Surrogacy Legal Would Violate Children’s Rights” here.


Dr Liz Bishop discusses commercial surrogacy on ABC’s RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Kirby Centre’s Dr Liz Bishop was interviewed on ABC’s RN Breakfast by Fran Kelly about commercial surrogacy in light of the unfolding debate surrounding baby Gammy. In this interview Liz discusses the potential commodification of a child in a surrogacy arrangement, competing interests of surrogates and parents, and the importance of reorienting the national surrogacy debate to focus on the overarching welfare, best interests and rights of the child.

Listen to the full interview here.


Bebe Loff and Ruth Macklin attend GFBR during 12th World Congress of Bioethics in Mexico City

Kirby Centre Director, Bebe Loff, attended The Global Forum on Bioethics in Research (GFBR) one-day satellite meeting prior to the International Association of Bioethics’ World Congress of Bioethics on June 24 2014 in Mexico City. Bebe Loff was one of 50 specially selected invitees and chaired a Case Study discussion titled “The Ethics of International Collaborative Research Part A: The Challenges of Ethical Review of Multi-Site, Multi-Country Studies”. During the same satellite meeting Prof. Ruth Macklin, patron of the Kirby Centre, was given a special award recognizing her contribution to global (research) bioethics. The award has two components: a personalized memento for the awardee and a rolling trophy which will be passed along to future awardees (Prof Macklin was the first awardee of this special GFBR prize).



Bebe Loff attends WCB and Dr Bridget Pratt receives 2014 Mark S. Ehrenreich Prize in Healthcare Ethics Research

Bebe Loff attended the 12th World Congress of Bioethics (WCB) 2014 in Mexico City where she watched with pride as Dr Bridget Pratt, a recent PhD graduate of the Kirby Centre, won the Congress prize for best paper. Bridget was selected as winner of the 2014 Mark S. Ehrenreich Prize in Healthcare Ethics Research for her paper entitled: “Global justice and health systems research in low and middle-income countries”. The paper extends the research for health justice framework developed by Bridget while she was at the Kirby Centre. The WCB is the largest meeting globally focussed on bioethics.


Bebe Loff speaks at Australian Human Rights Commission’s Capacity Building Workshop in China

Bebe Loff was invited to speak at a "China-Australia Human Rights Capacity Building Workshop" in China by the Australian Human Rights Commission. It was a group of about thirty including  ambassadors for China, Chinese United Nations representatives (including the Chinese representative on the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee that monitors the right to health) deans of law schools and others. Bebe discussed the right to health, its lack of clarity and overly broad application.



Kirby Centre’s HeLP Patient Legal Clinic is an Australian First

27 March 2014 saw the launch by Michael Kirby of the Health-Legal Partnership (HeLP) Patient Legal Clinic. The Kirby Centre, together with Alfred Health and Maurice Blackburn, have established the HeLP Patient Legal Clinic at the Alfred Hospital. Through the provision of on-site  pro bono legal assistance, the HeLP Clinic provides legal advice to hospital patients who experience health-related legal problems. You can hear Kirby Centre Director Associate Professor Bebe Loff discuss this project on ABC’s “The World Today” with Samantha Donovan here.


Teaching Law, Ethics and Human Rights in Fiji

At the request of a former student, Jyotishna Mudaliar, Dr Liz Bishop has developed and delivered introductory training in law, ethics and human rights for Years 4 and 5 medical students at Fiji National University (FNU). She is also working with staff at FNU to introduce elements of ethics, law and rights into the curriculum from years 1 - 3 in a manner consistent with the culture and the local environment in which students are learning and will be practising. Liz also holds regular de-briefing sessions with the final year medical students enabling them to discuss and analyse the significant ethical dilemmas with which they are confronted.


Human rights capacity building amongst sex workers from Asia Pacific region

Bebe Loff met with sex workers from Cambodia on a boat docked on the Mekong River in a human rights capacity building exercise. As a result sex workers developed their own rights-based messages in the form of videos, posters, t-shirts, and in song and dance. Together they produced a paper delivered at a World Health Organization (WHO) sponsored meeting detailing their concerns with the 100% Condom Use Programme which, through its implementation, results in increased human rights abuses for sex workers.



The Tide Cannot Be Turned Without Us: Sex Workers And The Global Response To HIV


Cheryl Overs at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington

The Tide Cannot Be Turned Without Us: Sex Workers And The Global Response To HIV is an article based on the plenary presentation by Cheryl Overs at the AIDS 2012 Conference in Washington.

In this article Cheryl Overs and Bebe Loff highlight the need for the law to enable commercial sex to take place in the safest possible conditions in context with the introduction of antiretroviral-based HIV prevention that could have harmful consequences if not well planned.

Loff and Overs explore potential problems and complexities to sex workers that will be inherent with the introduction of antiretroviral-based HIV prevention. These include lack of research, cost of contraceptive and medication, avoidance of health service and HIV testing, failure to reserve confidentiality and mandatory testing and treatment.

Evidence shows that programmes that prevent HIV among sex workers and their clients are most successful when all aspects of vulnerability are addressed and when they are underpinned by policy that advances human rights. Law and policy on sex work should not be limited to aiming to deliver medicine and services to sex workers in dangerous working conditions. A high-priority aim should be to ensure that the law enables commercial sex to take place in the safest possible conditions.

To read the full article click here.


Cheryl Overs delivers Plenary speech "The Tide Cannot Be Turned Without Us: HIV Epidemics Amongst Key Affected Populations" at the 2012 International AIDS Conference

On 26 July 2012, Cheryl Overs delivered her Plenary speech "The Tide Cannot Be Turned Without Us: HIV Epidemics Amongst Key Affected Populations" at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington in front of a live audience of 25,000 people.

Cheryl was among a distinguished group of guest speakers including Former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Bill Gates, Elton John and Whoopi Goldberg. The conference takes the opportunity to bring together scientists, politicians and advocates to address the AIDS epidemic.

Cheryl spoke of the challenges and opportunities that pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis and topical microbicides present for sex workers. Arguing that to limit HIV among sex workers and clients programming should not be focused on delivering medicines or products to sex workers in dangerous places at the cost of other initiatives that ensure that commercial sex occurs in safe, legal workplaces.

View Cheryl’s speech (starts at 30mins)


Bebe Loff attends One Just World forum with Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia

On 12 April 2011, The Michael Kirby Centre’s director; Bebe Loff spoke at One Just World: Are We All at Risk? Turning the Tide on Health in Brisbane.

Bebe discussed in a forum with World Vision Australia’s CEO; Tim Costello, Griffith University professor; Geoffrey Woolcock, and Monash University professor; Michael Good about conflicts in national health priorities and issues in global health.

Watch Bebe Loff speak at One Just World: Are We All at Risk? Turning the Tide on Health


Michael Williams has written a paper in HIV Australia on the migration problems facing sex workers who plan to attend the 2012 AIDS Conference in Washington

Michael Williams has written a paper in HIV Australia titled “Can you Imagine a World AIDS Conference without theRed Umbrellas?”. The paper addresses the migration problems facing sex workers who plan to attend the 2012 AIDS Conference in Washington.  It is based on the experience of the Cheryl Overs' refused entry to the USA in June 2010 when she attempted to attend a meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (of which she is a member) of the United Nations Global Commission on HIV and the Law. View paper here (page 40).


Kirby Centre co-authored a paper in the Medical Journal of Australia widely reported in the media

Molly Bond, Michael Williams, Brad Crammond and Bebe Loff have co-authored a paper in the Medical Journal of Australia titled “It’s not about choice: the supermarket and obesity” Med J Aust 2012; 197 (7): 371.  The paper has been widely reported in the media, including by the ABC, MTR, Triple M, A Current Affair, the Herald Sun and The Age.  The article explores the role of supermarkets in the obesity epidemic, through the ways in which supermarket design and strategy encourage shoppers to buy large quantities of high-profit-margin, energy dense, nutrient poor foods.  View article here.


Bebe Loff and Cheryl Overs attend the 'First Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work'

Bebe Loff and Cheryl Overs attend the 'First Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work' in Pattaya, Thailand, from 12-15 October 2010 at the invitation of the organisors of the Consultation: the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers. A number of eminent figures also attended including Centre namesake Michael Kirby AC CMG, Dame Carol Kidu, PNG Minister for Community Development and our Patron Ms Meena Seshu.


Kirby Centre project on the ethical duties of health professionals when caring for asylum seekers in detention, finalist for a 2010 Australian Museum Eureka Prize

Dr Deborah Zion and Associate Professor Bebe Loff – together with Professor Linda Briskman from Curtin University of Technology – are finalists in the 2010 Eureka Prize in Ethics Research.

'Caring for Asylum Seekers in Australia: Bioethics and Human Rights' examines the health consequences of Australia's policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The team's work examines the ethics, human rights and practical implications of this policy on the day-to-day treatment of asylum seekers, and the ability for health care practitioners to practice ethical care in such a setting.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.


The Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights is now a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Collaborating Centre

MOU

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UNAIDS and the Kirby Centre has been signed by Monash University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Ed Byrne AO and Mr Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The MOU was first proposed at the official launch of the Michael Kirby Centre on 29 August 2010 by Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, in recognition of the Centre's impressive research agenda on the study of health and human rights.  The MOU lays the framework for future projects between including (among other things) joint research, publications and reciprocal internships.

Michael Kirby AC CMG has been informed of the MOU and stated that 'I close the year with a great sense of pride and satisfaction in my association with the Centre'.


Formal launch of The Michael Kirby Centre by Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at the Positive Living Centre

The Centre, named for the former Justice of the High Court of Australia, renowned human rights expert, advocate and defender was officially launched by Mr Michel Sidibé, the head of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations program against the spread of HIV, on Sunday 29 August.

The Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health and Human Rights is a collaboration of interdisciplinary scholars in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. It aims to conduct public health research that is informed by the law and human rights and make a practical contribution to the development of policy and programs locally and internationally.

Read The Hon. Michael Kirby's launch speech here.