Perth priest recognised with highest honour for lifetime contribution to health and education
Rev Dr Joseph Parkinson (third from left) with from left, St John of God Health Care CEO, Shane Kelly, former WA Governor, the Hon Kerry Sanderson AC, Deputy Premier the Hon Roger Cook MLA and SJGHC Board of Trustees Chair Eva Skira AM. Photo: Archdiocese of Perth, with permission.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has last week awarded leading Catholic bioethicist Rev Dr Joseph Parkinson its highest honour for his contribution to health and education.
Dr Parkinson was awarded the CHA 2021 Sr Maria Cunningham Lifetime Contribution Award at the organisation’s national awards ceremony on Thursday 11 November 2021.
The award is named after Sr Maria Cunningham, who was instrumental in founding Catholic Health Australia and who was exemplary in her service to the sick and the poor through working in hospitals, prisons and with mothers and children.
Catholic Health Australia awarded her the inaugural Sr Maria Cunningham Lifetime Contribution Award in 2011, and determined an annual award would be given in her name in subsequent years.
The award recognises Dr Parkinson’s work over the past 40 years, in particular his contributions to St John of God Health Care, one of Australia’s largest Catholic providers of health care services, and his impact on the community through a lifetime of bioethics writing, teaching and consultancy across health, aged care and education.
CHA Chief Executive Officer Pat Garcia congratulated Dr Parkinson on the award.
“Dr Parkinson is a well-deserved recipient of this lifetime achievement award. Not only has his contribution to the health, aged care and education sectors been significant, but his expertise and advice is highly valued and has guided so much of what our service providers do every day,” he said.
“As a Catholic bioethicist, Dr Parkinson’s research and advice has helped Catholic organisations, and our wider community, address a range of topics that challenge social norms such as voluntary assisted dying, the allocation of resources during a pandemic and the importance of vaccination for the greater good.
“While this is a lifetime achievement award and we know his contributions will continue into the future, this award provides the opportunity to reflect and celebrate Dr Parkinson’s impact to date.”
Dr Parkinson is the current, and longest-serving Director of the LJ Goody Bioethics Centre (2003-current), which is part of the Archdiocese of Perth providing research, education and consultancy in personal, professional, public and health care ethics.
He is also currently the Deputy Chair of the Trustees of St John of God Health Care, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia.
He has held a variety of roles on select committees at WA universities, and within the WA Department of Health focused on ethics in research, reproductive health and privacy of health information.
Dr Parkinson’s contribution to bioethics research has focused on professional ethics in Catholic ministry, pastoral care of same-sex attracted persons, gender dysphoria, and bioethics in public policy debates.
St John of God Health Care Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Shane Kelly said Dr Parkinson, has had a wide-ranging positive impact.
“Over a number of decades, Fr Joe has helped us to respond to everyday ethical issues that occur in hospitals and other health care settings” he said.
“He understands how hospitals work and how people think and operate.
“Everyone at St John of God Health Care, from leaders to clinicians, has benefitted from Fr Joe’s advice and expertise as it has meant that we don’t have to be alone in thinking about and addressing those really challenging issues.”
Dr Parkinson said he was humbled to receive the award.
“I am overwhelmed by this honour,” he said.
“The role of Catholic health care providers is to provide care to the vulnerable, in a world in which care and compassion can be rare commodities. As a bioethicist, it my privilege, sometimes, to help put words and concepts around that so we can talk about why that care is good and that, sometimes, helps to steer future decisions.
“I am very privileged to have played some part in the work of Catholic health, aged and disability care in Australia.”
Born and educated in Western Australia, Fr Joe has been a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth for 39 years.
He has served roles including as assistant priest and parish priest in a number of parishes in the Archdiocese, Director of Catholic Youth Ministry, Director of Catholic Health Australia, and held academic posts including lecturer in ethics and theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia and Dean of Studies at St Charles Seminary in Guildford.
His substantive position since 2003 has been Director of the L J Goody Bioethics Centre, an agency of the Archdiocese providing research, education and consultancy in personal, professional, public and healthcare ethics.
Dr Parkinson holds a Licence in Moral Theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome (Italy), and a PhD in Moral Theology from the University of Notre Dame Australia.
He currently sits on the Human Research and Clinical Ethics committees of St John of God Healthcare Inc, the Reproductive Technology Council at the Health Department of WA, and the Clinical Ethics Consultancy Service of the Women’s and Children’s Health Service of WA serving both Perth Children’s Hospital and King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women. He is also a Trustee of St John of God Health Care, and an honorary fellow of Australian Catholic University, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy and Theology at the Fremantle Campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia.
Dr Parkinson current areas of research include professional ethics in Catholic ministry, pastoral care of same-sex attracted persons, and bioethics in public policy debates.