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Event Details

Michael Kirby: Health & Human Rights

27 June 2023
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney
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David Cooper Lecture Michael Kirby

2023 David Cooper Lecture 

Michael Kirby | Geraldine Doogue

Regardless of where people are born or the communities they belong to, equal access to healthcare should be a fundamental human right. In our age of pandemics, and with healthcare inequality widening, how can we make healthcare access equitable?

Esteemed jurist and legal scholar Michael Kirby has tirelessly advocated for equal access to healthcare over his lengthy career. As a pioneering AIDS activist, member of the WHO’s Global Commission on AIDS from 1988 – 1992, and respected legal mind, Kirby’s focus in recent years has also included decriminalising homosexuality and sex work, and reducing the cost of life-saving medications.

Join Michael Kirby in conversation with journalist Geraldine Doogue as they discuss his life and career, focusing on what we have learnt from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, how we have applied those lessons during recent pandemics, and how we can build support for egalitarian global healthcare.

This event is co-presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, The Kirby Institute and supported by UNSW Medicine & Health


The David Cooper Lecture honours the legacy of The Kirby Institute’s Founding Director, Professor David Cooper AC. Professor Cooper passed away in 2018 and was an internationally renowned scientist and HIV clinician, who laid the foundations for Australia’s ongoing global leadership in the fight against the global HIV epidemic.   

To make a donation to support David Cooper’s incredible vision for equitable access to healthcare visit


Leighton Hall is located inside the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream.   


Wheelchair Access
The closest accessible drop off point to Leighton Hall is via Gate 11, Botany Street. More information on getting there can be found via our interactive accessibility map available here.

Assisted Listening
Leighton Hall has hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to utilise this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

This event will be live captioned. 

Auslan interpreting services can be provided for selected talks upon request. 

To discuss access requirements and book selected services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email


Leighton Hall (John Niland Scientia Building) is easily accessible via public transport and the closest light rail stops are UNSW High Street (L2 line) or UNSW Anzac Parade (L3 line). For more information please call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Free parking is also available in the Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) from 5.30pm. For access to free parking, event patrons must park in the UNSW Permit Holder bays, available on all levels. The Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) parking station is located here.

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. For more information head here



For all other enquiries, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. For more information on all other relay calls visit here.

Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby is a highly distinguished Australian jurist and legal scholar who served as a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1996 to 2009. He has been recognised internationally for his contributions to human rights and social justice and is affectionately known as the ‘Great Dissenter’ for his well-reasoned, independent, and sometimes controversial opinions.

He was a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS and since retiring from the High Court, has continued his work in various international roles, including as a Commissioner on the UNDP Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and as a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights. He has been awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal, was named a laureate of the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education and received the Gruber Justice Prize for his work on sexual orientation discrimination and international human rights law, including laws relating to privacy and HIV/AIDS. He is also a public speaker, commentator, and author.

Geraldine Doogue

Geraldine Doogue

Geraldine Doogue is a renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster with experience in print, television and radio. She currently presents ABC RN’s Saturday Extra which specialises in foreign policy, regional issues, agenda-changing commentators, good books, and has been a reporter for The West Australian, The Australian, 2UE, Channel 10 and the Presenter/Creator of ABC RN’s Life Matters.

During her career with both the ABC and commercial media she has won two Penguin Awards for excellence in broadcasting from the Television Society of Australia and a United Nations Media Peace Prize. In 2000 Geraldine was awarded a Churchill Fellowship for social and cultural reporting. In 2003, she was recognised with an Officer in the Order of Australia for services to the community and media. Geraldine tackles a wide range of subjects with rigour, optimism, humour and warmth.

David Cooper

About David Cooper

Scientia Professor David Cooper AC was an internationally-renowned immunologist, researcher, and the inaugural director of the Kirby Institute at its foundation in 1986, and remained in the role until he passed away on Sunday 18 March 2018 after a short illness. He initiated ground-breaking, collaborative infectious disease research that has saved countless lives in Australia, and throughout the world. He was among the first responders when the HIV epidemic reached Australia in the early 1980s, and established Australia’s ongoing global leadership in the fight against the global HIV epidemic.

Professor Cooper received many professional accolades. He was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003, and posthumously appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2018. David Cooper was a dedicated and compassionate doctor to many HIV patients, and those with other immunological conditions, throughout his lifetime, and is remembered as a great friend and mentor to all who were fortunate to know him.

David Gonski

David Gonski AC (Introduction)

David is Chancellor of the University of New South Wales and Chairman of the UNSW Foundation Ltd. He is President of the Art Gallery of NSW Trust, Non-Executive Chairman of Barrenjoey Capital Partners Group Holdings Pty Limited, Chairman of Sydney Airport and Chairman of Levande Living. He is also a member of the Board of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, a non-executive Member of LeapFrog Investment’s Global Leadership Council, a Patron of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and Raise Foundation and a Founding Panel Member of Adara Partners.

He was previously Chairman of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, Chair of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools for the Commonwealth Government of Australia. He was also a member of the Takeovers Panel, the ASIC External Advisory Panel and Director of Singapore Airlines Limited, the Westfield Group and Singapore Telecommunications Limited, Chairman of Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd, the Australian Securities Exchange Ltd, the Sydney Theatre Company, the Guardians of the Future Fund, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Board of Trustees of Sydney Grammar School and Investec Bank (Australia) Ltd.

Tony Kelleher

Anthony Kelleher (Vote of Thanks)

Professor Anthony (Tony) Kelleher is a clinician scientist and Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney. He is also head of the Immunovirology and Pathogenesis program at the Kirby Institute and Principal of the Infection Immunology and Inflammation Theme at UNSW Medicine & Health Sydney. As a staff specialist at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, Professor Kelleher is responsible for clinical care of patients with HIV infection and autoimmune diseases as well as providing consultative input into the running of the NSW State HIV Reference laboratory.

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