Vale Dr Rodney Syme AM
The Australian end of life landscape is poorer this week as a foundational figure in the fight for choices at end of life has died from a stroke.
Former surgeon, medical doctor and fierce, rationalist advocate for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) Rodney Syme AM died on 20th October 2021 following a stroke. Syme was 86 years old.
Made a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to social welfare initiatives and to law reform in 2019, Syme returned his honour following the appalling decision to honour Margaret Court with the Order of Australia. Court is openly homophobic, and Syme refused to retain an honour handed out to someone who clearly did not meet the standard expected of a recipient.
Syme never shied away from what he perceived as an honourable, correct course of action - he famously assisted many people to die with dignity by providing them with Nembutal to take at their own discretion. In latter years Syme openly defied an absence of choice at end of life in Australian regulations by being transparent in the media about his actions. A board member of Dying with Dignity Victoria, he was a pivotal figure in the crafting of the successful VAD legislation that saw Australia return to assisted dying being a legal option.
Syme was also awarded the Health Professional Award for the healthcare worker who had created global change at the 18th World Federation of the Right to Die Societies in Chicago last month.
Syme's book A Good Death is available here.