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Order of Malta Australia


Supporting Medical Students achieve Excellence in Bioethics


Report by Michael Shanahan

For many years Members of the Order in WA have supported medical students at the University of Notre Dame for achieving excellence in Philosophy and Ethics with a prize at the annual awards evening and the Catholic Doctors Association WA supporting the Theology prize.

However with the change from the MBBS to the Doctor of Medicine by the School of Medicine Fremantle in 2017, the School has also changed from delivering the University Core Curriculum from its usual three parts – Philosophy, Theology and Ethics to a single integrated course of Bioethics.

This is reflective of the postgraduate and integrated approach to the medical curriculum based on Problem Based Learning but is still inclusive of the Core Curriculum components.

The Bioethics course is taught by the School of Philosophy and Theology (with School of Medicine input) over the preclinical First and Second years of Medicine.

As a result there is now a single award supported by the Order of Malta, the Catholic Doctors Association WA, and the LJ Goody Bioethics Centre. The value of the prize has been doubled as result of these changes.

This year the prize was presented by Dr. Michael Tandon President of the CDA WA to recipient Sybil Trebeck (pictured).

The University of Notre Dame Fremantle and the School of Medicine have expressed their great appreciation of the Order of Malta for their support of this prize.

Sybil is studying Doctor of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle. She began her academic career with a Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National University in Canberra. Working casually as a disability support worker during this degree led her to follow immediately with an accelerated Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). During her graduate year as a nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, she discovered that she enjoyed working in mental health, with a particular interest in disadvantaged populations. This led her to complete a Master of Public Health at the University of New South Wales, which in turn facilitated gaining a position as a mental health Clinical Nurse Specialist. This enabled her to run education for peers and new graduate nurses, mentor junior nurses, and devise and implement quality improvement projects, the most significant of which involved improving rates of domestic violence screening by mental health staff. During this time, she also gained a position as a tutor at UTS teaching mental health nursing to undergraduates. In Perth, she continues to work as a nurse in mental health and as a casual academic for Curtin University, facilitating nursing students to complete their clinical practicums.

On receiving the prize, we received the following message of thanks from Sybil;

“I am passionate about bioethics, and was thrilled beyond words to be recognised in this way. Receiving the prize was a very validating and motivating moment in my academic life. I think it will make an enormous difference to my future career, in which I hope to be able to continue to engage with bioethics and other ethical aspects of medical practice.

The prize money is very generous, much appreciated, and enormously helpful at this point in my medical training.”


The Australian Association

The Australian Association, formed in 1974, currently has in excess of 300 members and aspirant members across every State and Territory of Australia. We also have ongoing and strong links with the Order’s National Associations throughout the Asia Pacific Region including in Singapore and the Philippines and with members of the Order in New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Thailand and Korea. The Order of Malta is committed to serving Our Lords the Poor and Sick worldwide and has done so for over 900 years. This website shares with you the history, mission and current activities of the Order of Malta in Australia, and provides links to the work of the Order world-wide.