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Wise advisor behind Queensland’s hub for bioethics Dr Ray Campbell to retire

Ray Campbell

Bioethicist: Dr Ray Campbell is retiring in December.

BRISBANE’S leading bioethics expert who helped spearhead a submission rejecting legislation for embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning in Queensland is looking for a successor.

After 16 years as the director of the Queensland Bioethics Centre and the John Paul II Centre for Family and Life, Dr Ray Campbell is retiring from the role in December.

Originally a university lecturer from Sydney, Dr Campbell made a visit to Brisbane in 1982 to undertake research at the Queensland Bioethics Centre.

“I did this research not expecting to be back here as the director,” he said.

Since taking up the role in 2000 as the centre’s third director, Dr Campbell has been a leading advisor for the Church in Queensland on various ethical issues including human embryo stem-cell debates, human cloning, abortion, euthanasia and more recently the pastoral care of transgender students.

While the Australian bishops, including Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, have called on Dr Campbell for advice, the long-time bioethics director said helping “the ordinary person” was most rewarding.

“I always find the high point is simply when people who have got partial issues around end-of-life care or infertility … and I’ve been able to give some advice, and years later they say ‘thank you’ for that advice, that it was the right choice,” he said.

Dr Campbell’s pastoral vision for the centre has been the driving force behind its success in various ethical debates. 

“We certainly participate in high-level research but I’ve always regarded the major feature of this centre as being available to the ordinary person,” he said.

Dr Campbell said the toughest moment as director was tackling the controversial debates into human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, an issue that landed in his lap soon after starting in the role.

The centre had also made a breakthrough against the push for euthanasia by reminding the public of the positive choice of palliative care.

“We have been able to put forward the fact that people have an ability to choose,” Dr Campbell said. 

He hoped the new director would continue to provide a high level of pastoral care for those approaching the centre with questions.

“The primary role is to be available to explain the Catholic teaching to people,” he said.

Dr Campbell will be continuing his role as Chair of Mercy Partners, an organisation caring for schools and healthcare facilities of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland.

Applications for the director of the bioethics centre have closed.

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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