PhD graduate wins Fulbright Scholarship

Recent ACU doctoral graduate Dr Xavier Symons has been awarded a Fulbright Future Scholarship to continue his work on healthcare ethics.

Dr Symons completed his PhD in 2019 at ACU, supervised by Dr Steve Matthews and Dr Stewart Braun, studying the ethics of healthcare distribution.  He is currently a Research Associate in the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame, where he convenes a bioethics and healthcare ethics research program.

xavier symons

His Fulbright scholarship will take him to the Kennedy Institute for Ethics (KIE) at Georgetown University in Washington DC to complete a research project on the ethics of dementia, focusing in particular on issues identified in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Working with leading aged care and disability scholars at the KIE, Xavier aims to critically evaluate the conceptions of autonomy, personhood and personal identity that inform current medical models of dementia. He will draw upon an extensive body of philosophical and social scientific research to explore how patients with even severe forms of dementia retain communicative and decisional capacity, albeit in a diminished form. He will also offer recommendations for how practice can be adjusted to affirm the dignity and enduring personhood of individuals with advanced dementia.

Dr Symons is passionate about aged care reform, having volunteered in nursing homes in Sydney and Melbourne for several years and experienced first-hand the many human and organisational challenges facing aged care providers in Australia.

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