25 Years of Service: Associate Professor Bernadette Tobin

Published: Monday 23rd June 2014

Bernadette Tobin

Associate Professor Bernadette Tobin completed a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Education (1st class) and a Master of Arts (Philosophy) (also 1st class) through the University of Melbourne, and went on to complete her Doctor of Philosophy (Education) at the University of Cambridge.

She has a very long association with not only ACU as such, but with its predecessor colleges and affiliates extending back almost 40 years. For nine years from 1975, she served as a lecturer in Philosophy with Melbourne’s Institute of Catholic Education, and then in the late 1980s-early 1990s with Sydney’s Catholic College of Education, first as lecturer, and then as their inaugural (ARC funded) Postdoctoral Research Fellow. From here, she was appointed (in 1993) the Foundation Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics at ACU and St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, and in 1996 was made Senior Lecturer (from 2002, Associate Professor and Reader) in Philosophy at ACU. She continues in her role as Director of the Plunkett Centre.

Throughout her career, she has held honorary positions with a number of other Australian Universities, including the University of Sydney and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (Honorary Ethicist and Associate Professor, 2004-present), the University of Technology Sydney (Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Science, 2010-13), the University of NSW (Conjoint Associate Professor, 2004-08), and University of Wollongong (Honorary Fellow, 1991-92).

Associate Professor Tobin’s role as Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics, has over many years involved her deeply in the life of St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney (and other affiliated facilities run by what was previously St Vincent’s & Mater Health Sydney), as well as in short-term consultancy roles, media appearances, the preparation of submissions to government, and other vital community services.

In terms of her work as an academic ethicist, she has published many book chapters on issues in ethics and healthcare ethics in particular, and co-authored articles in refereed journals such as the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Journal of Law and Medicine, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Clinical Ethics, and the Medical Journal of Australia. She continues to serve (since 2003) on the Editorial Board of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.

Over a number of decades, Associate Professor Tobin has made very significant contributions to a range of hospital and governmental advisory bodies dealing with research and professional ethics and public healthcare issues, and boards of professional healthcare and bioethics associations. In recent years, for example, she has served as Director of the Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation (2001-13), and as a member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ Ethics Advisory Group (2007-2012), the NSW Health Clinical Ethics Advisory Panel (2003-present), and the Board of Garvan Institute of Medical Research (2004-13).

She continues to serve also as a lay member of the Medical Tribunal of New South Wales (2003-present), and as Honorary Consultant to the Sydney Institute of Palliative Medicine (1992-present). In previous years, Associate Professor Tobin served as the Chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee’s sub-committee that revised the Ethical Guidelines on Assisted Reproductive Technology (2001-04). She also served as a member (representing the NHRMC) of the Council (and then National Association) of Australians Donate (1998-2005) and the NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Biotechnology (2001-2003). She was a member and sometime Deputy Chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee (1994-2003), and a member of the executive of the Australian Bioethics Association (1992-1995). She also Chaired the AHEC’s Transplantation Ethics Working Party (1994-1996).

Beyond such substantial professional contributions, Associate Professor Tobin has also served in various voluntary and community engagement roles, with for example, St John’s College at the University of Sydney, the Sydney Catholic Archdiocesan Schools’ Board, Bethlehem University, Scalabrinian Villages and Kincoppal-Rose Bay School.

Associate Professor Tobin’s contributions over many years have been immense, varied and important, and it is fitting that on this anniversary of her association with ACU, that we thank her and warmly acknowledge her efforts over this time.