RSA Patron and euthanasia advocate Dr Rodney Syme, who has spent decades lobbying for voluntary assisted dying, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to social welfare initiatives, and to law reform.”
The 84-year-old urologist and surgeon started what he described as his “life of crime” in helping others to die with dignity in the mid 1970s when he helped a patient in extreme pain end his life.
In the early 1990s he began an unofficial career as a medical counsellor in end of life advice.
He attempted to provoke a legal test case on euthanasia in 2005 by admitting publicly that he provided a dying man Steve Guest with the drug Nembutal two weeks before he died.
In 2016, The Medical Board banned him from providing advice to terminally ill patients after he told ABC television program Australian Story he had offered to provide 71-year-old cancer patient Bernard Erica with the euthanasia drug Nembutal.
He later won an appeal that overturned the ban.
A leading advocate of the Voluntary Assisted Dying laws that passed the Victorian Parliament in 2017 he was awarded the honour of Australian Humanist of the Year in 2017.
Accepting the award he said “how we die is important – it is at the core of how our loved ones remember us.”
“My aim in counselling is to help people to go as far with their lives as they can consistent with their values and their assessment of their quality of life, and if they are approaching, or have reached the end of their journey, to provide them with control.”