AABHL Kirby Oration


Joanna Manning
“Fair, simple, speedy and efficient”? Barriers to access to justice in the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Complaints Process in New Zealand

Given the absence of a civil damages action for personal injury, the Health and Disability Commissioner’s (HDC) complaints process occupies a pivotal role in New Zealand’s medico-legal regulatory arrangements. It is designed to address complainants’ non-financial motivations in making a complaint after an adverse event in their health care. Professor Manning asks whether the HDC complaints process accords its users, particularly complainants and consumers, acceptable and effective legal mechanisms for asserting their legal rights and securing just outcomes. The process is assessed against the original statutory aims of the complaints process (“fair, simple, speedy, and efficient resolution of complaints”). Quantitative and qualitative evidence is marshalled in support of the conclusion that unacceptable barriers to accessing justice are embedded in the complaints process, as currently designed and operationalised. Of particular note are the lack of any means for a complainant to seek review of the merits of a Commissioner’s decision to take no further action on a complaint, and for either party to challenge the outcome of an HDC investigation. Manning considers four reform options and advocates the inclusion of a mechanism for external review or appeal of adverse HDC decisions.


Anne-Maree Farrell
Regulating human tissue in Australia: Principles, institutions and politics
Sponsored by the Australian Centre for Health Law Research

Since the mid-twentieth century, there has been an exponential growth in the use of human tissue for use in medicine and research. Regulatory regimes have been developed at local and international levels to manage the donation, supply and use of human tissue in therapeutic settings, whether on their own or as part of a range of health technologies. This presentation examines the principles, institutions and politics that have influenced the way in which we regulate human tissue for use in such settings in Australia, with a particular focus on blood, organs and replacement tissue. It draws on findings from interviews conducted with stakeholders working in these areas. What is clear is that while there is commonality across a number of ethical, social and risk-based issues, there are also important differences in how specific types of human tissue are regulated. In turn, this may impact upon options for policy and law reform, including whether a more unified national regulatory approach is desirable or appropriate


No conference was held in this year


John Tobin
Bioethics and human rights: Merger or acquisition?

Abstract not currently available



Abstract not currently available


Christobel Saunders
Screening for disease – Are we improving health or are we making sickness?

Abstract not currently available


Anthony Hill, Health and Disability Commissioner, New Zealand
Back to the future: Shaping a future from our past

Abstract not currently available


Mason Durie
Māori Health, the Re-indigenisation of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the Ethics of Indigeneity

Abstract not currently available


Ian Freckelton
Unscientific healthcare: Clinical, regulatory and ethical challenges

Evidence-based health care has become an expectation by contemporary health professions of their practitioners. This requires it to have a foundation in scholarly literature and to have a scientifically valid methodology. However, there is a dishonourable tradition of registered and unregistered practitioners either providing assessment and treatment that does not conform to such requirements or making representations about likely efficacy that are unjustifiable by reference to peer reviewed clinical knowledge. Sometimes such conduct is predatory and deliberately exploitative; other times it is simply misconceived on the part of practitioners who regard themselves a medical pioneers. The Kirby Oration situates such conduct within unscientific and unorthodox health practice as well as within the realm of cancer quackery. It surveys recent consumer protection and disciplinary decisions on bizarre treatments to evaluate the role of the law and ethical precepts in regulating such conduct. It argues in favour of an assertive legal response to protect vulnerable patients and potential patients against forms of treatment and promises of outcomes that are unscientific and deceptive. It discusses the tension between free speech entitlements on the part of health practitioners, as well as autonomy on the part of patients who wish to avail themselves of heterodox forms of treatment, and reflects on the role of the state in demanding accuracy and scientific bases in representations about health care.


Julian Burnside
Principles, pragmatism, and politics

Abstract not currently available