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About us

The Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics is a Catholic bioethics centre:

  • We research and publish about health care issues.
  • We provide education and training about health ethics to health professionals and the general community.
  • Over the phone or face to face, we assist without discrimination any person who seeks help in making decisions about health care.
  • We contribute to community discussion and debate by making public comments about important matters related to health care.
  • We also assist health care institutions in the development of policies, protocols and procedures, particularly in areas which might be ethically contentious. 

Much of our research is published in the Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin, which contains thoroughly researched, reasonably short and very readable articles about ethically significant health issues. Health professionals, ethicists, university and high school students researching assignments, and the general public regularly tell us that they find our articles helpful. To access our Bulletin, click here.

The Centre also conducts an annual, one-day conference on a variety of significant health care matters. In recent years, for example, we have held conferences on advance care planning, organ donation, palliative care, and mental health. The speakers at our conferences are experts in their fields, and our conferences are of interest to health professionals, pastoral and spiritual care workers, patients and consumers of health, aged and community services, and the general public.

The Centre is located in East Melbourne. We have a special relationship with the Catholic health, aged and community services that sponsor us. We also provide services to other organisations and many members of the general public.

Our Logo

Our logo has many meanings. It is at once a cross, a star and a compass. (Have a look and see if you can see these images in it.)

As a cross, it is a Christian symbol. Christians who believe in the resurrection of Christ are reminded by the Cross that in our lives too those times which are most like dying can also be the times when we experience new life. In the form of the Red Cross emblem or the Serpent Cross which combines the Christian Cross with the Rod of Asclepius, the Cross is also a symbol of medicine and health care. And for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, it is also a reminder of the Southern Cross in our night skies.

Our logo is also a guiding star and a compass. (You might need a bit of imagination to see this.) Our exploration of ethical issues both in research and in consultation and advisement has been like a guiding star which has shown the way forward. Or it has been like a compass which has shown us the way. If you are researching health care issues, and especially if you are facing difficult decisions about health care, we hope that the resources of the Centre will also help you find your way.

Caroline Chisholm

Our Centre is named in honour of the great Catholic humanitarian Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877). In Sydney in 1841, Mrs Chisholm was confronted by the desperate situation of many female emigrants, and before the altar of St Mary’s Cathedral dedicated herself to help them. Between 1841 and 1845, she led some 11,000 girls and young women to employment (and happy marriages) in country parts of New South Wales. Returning to England, she and her husband Archibald worked tirelessly between 1846 and 1854 to re-unite families separated by emigration, and to assist other families to emigrate to Australia for a better life. In all, they assisted about 5,000 people to emigrate. Moving next to Victoria, Mrs Chisholm established ten hostels to provide women and children with food and lodgings as they travelled to join their menfolk on the goldfields. At the Centre, we are both inspired and challenged by the difference that Caroline made everywhere she went. As Caroline Chisholm defended the dignity of vulnerable people in her day, we hope and pray that our work in our day will also defend the dignity of all people particularly the most vulnerable.