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Announcement of the Passing of Emeritus Professor David Penington AC

Penington Institute’s namesake and patron, Emeritus Professor David Penington AC, passed away on 6 January 2023.

Professor Penington was one of Australia’s leading public intellectuals and health experts. He courageously advocated for sensible policy in his roles as former chair of the National AIDS Task Force, the Victorian Premier’s Drug Advisory Council, and the Victorian Government’s Drug Policy Expert Committee.

His great legacy includes making Australia a world leader in HIV/AIDS public health strategy. Professor Penington was also pivotal in advancing rational debate on drug-related issues, changing community attitudes to alcohol and illicit drug problems. Penington Institute will continue this important work to reduce harm.

Professor Penington’s other leadership roles included Professor of Medicine, Dean of Medicine and Vice Chancellor at the University of Melbourne; chairman of Cochlear Ltd, Bio21 Australia Ltd, the Bio21 Institute, and Bionic Vision Australia; and president of Museum Victoria.

John Ryan, CEO of Penington Institute said:

“David’s outstanding leadership in HIV/AIDS saved thousands of Australian lives, an approach emulated internationally.

“He changed for the better the way governments and the Australian community understand and manage drug use issues.

“He was courageous, generous and always concerned for the most vulnerable.

“It was my great privilege to learn from him, to be guided by his unmatched intellect and to have enjoyed his support, both personally and professionally.”

Penington Institute extends the deepest condolences to Professor Penington’s wife Sonay and extended family at this difficult time.

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