ACU National sponsors debate on ethical issues in care of ageing and end of life

Thursday, 22 January 2009

22 January 2009: Academics from the Australian Catholic University (ACU National) will join bioethicists from around Australia at the National Colloquium for Catholic Bioethicists in Melbourne this weekend.

The topic is Ethical and Pastoral Issues in Care of the Ageing and at the End of Life. The colloquium is a professional meeting for those engaged in researching or teaching bioethics, or who are in the related professional fields including the health profession, law, social science, philosophy and theology.

The four ACU National speakers and the topics they will cover are:

Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven: Professional Conscience and freedom of thought, conscience and religion: what protection is there or might there be?

Recent controversies concerning abortion have starkly raised the question of professional conscience and religious freedom. Professor Craven, while considering the particular question of abortion, will seek to place these issues in the wider context of the current debate over the legislative recognition of human rights.

Ms Joanne Grainger, Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery: A ‘Good Death’:  A dichotomy of language in end of life care.

Ms Grainger will explore some of the contemporary cultural influences in Australian society upon public and health professional’s determination of what constitutes a ‘good death’ in end of life care.  She will present some key considerations present in evidence based practice, identify cultural and social challenges in responding to the specific care needs of the dying, and present a Christian framework to the profound truth and meaning of a ‘Good’ death.

Professor Janis (John) Ozolins, Head of School of Philosophy: Meaning, value and worth at the end of life.

Death is a certainty for each human being, and the way we think about the value and meaning of life in the case of sudden death, or someone faced with terminal illness raises very different questions. When the death involves a young person untimely taken, the question of meaning often turns to the problem of evil; When a loved one faces a long battle with pain and suffering, the question of meaning turns on the value of the suffering being endured. For those without a belief in God the same questions of the meaning of the end of life arise just as forcefully. Professor Ozolins will explore what responses we can make to these questions.

Dr Fran McInerney, Associate Professor, Aged Care: Challenges to the provision of care for the elderly person with dementia in the acute sector.

The increase in the number of people living to old age in the developed West demonstrates the social, political, medical, and public health advances of the last 150 years. However, this development has also seen a rise in chronic illnesses including dementia, which pose a variety of associated challenges for the sufferer, their loved ones, the health care system, and society in general. Dr McInerney will explore some of the specific challenges encountered in caring for the person experiencing dementia admitted to the tertiary hospital setting.

For more information visit