Xavier Symons appointed Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics

ACU and its healthcare partners are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Xavier Symons as incoming Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics.

Dr Symons will commence in the role in April 2024, marking a new chapter in Plunkett’s commitment to Catholic bioethics together with a network of partner hospitals and aged care centres.

Dr Symons brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his new position. He is a philosopher and bioethicist. He completed his PhD at the Australian Catholic University in 2020 with a thesis that focused on the ethics of healthcare resource allocation. He also holds degrees from the University of Sydney and the University of Oxford.

Dr Symons has worked as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Notre Dame Australia and the Australian Catholic University. He completed a Fulbright Future Postdoctoral Scholarship at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute for Ethics in 2021-22 with a research project focused on the ethics of dementia. He has also taught bioethics at the University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Law. He is an outgoing Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Human Flourishing Program in the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.

His work has been published in journals such as the Medical Journal of Australia, the Journal of Medical Ethics, the Kennedy Institute for Ethics Journal, and Res Publica. He also writes regularly for popular audiences in both Australia and abroad and his work has been featured in outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, ABC Religion and Ethics, The Guardian, and Public Discourse.

Dr Symons said he was honoured to be appointed Director of the Plunkett Centre for Ethics, where he was previously a postdoctoral research fellow.

"This is an important role that carries with it a responsibility to advance ethics within healthcare and biomedical research as well as to conduct rigorous bioethics scholarship within the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Dr Symons said.

"I am excited about the opportunity to work with the dedicated team at the Plunkett Centre, our partner hospitals, and healthcare providers to ensure ethical considerations are paramount in the domain of healthcare."

Outgoing Director Dr Bernadette Tobin said it had been a privilege to lead the Centre. She will remain affiliated with the Plunkett Centre as a researcher.

"Over the years, I have worked with outstanding men and women, clinicians, administrators and philosophers, in endeavours that are important in healthcare itself and in the life of the Church,” she said.

“I’m delighted that Xavier has been appointed as the new director. He will significantly renew the work of the Centre in our participating partner hospitals and within the University itself.”

ACU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Hayden Ramsay said Dr Symons’ appointment marked a new chapter for the Plunkett Centre.

"This appointment is a significant moment for the partnership between ACU and our Catholic hospitals and aged care providers,” he said.

“Dr Symons’ academic achievements, combined with his passion for communicating healthcare ethics and research, make him the ideal candidate to lead the Plunkett Centre for Ethics into the future.”

Established in 1992, the Plunkett Centre for Ethics is a centre of Australian Catholic University, currently with six ‘participating partners’: St Vincent’s Public Hospital Sydney, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney, The Mater Hospital Sydney, Calvary Healthcare, Cabrini Hospital Melbourne, and Mercy Health.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs