BN Health Forum Sydney: Going Viral - Healthcare, Media and the Law

event information
Thursday, 27 July 2023
Forum sessions: 4:00pm I Networking & drinks: 6:15pm
Ivy Sunroom: 330 George Street, Sydney
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    Following the final session, attendees are invited to continue the conversation over drinks and canapes.

    If you have any questions, please get in touch with the BN Events team at

    Health Forum

In January, the Federal Court changed its rules to prevent public access to its files prior to the first court appearance. This prompted debate regarding the need for an open and transparent justice system versus the potentially prejudicial impact of media access to sensitive or confidential content in court documents.

The relationship between media and the legal system has long been a complex one, and this is particularly so in the healthcare context. Recent times have seen the media play a central role in public health during the pandemic, and programs such as Four Corners’ “Cosmetic Cowboys” act as a catalyst for regulatory reform. On the other hand, media involvement can complicate and sometimes compromise legal processes for healthcare providers. The public nature of litigation, regulatory proceedings and coronial inquests means that journalists often have a front row seat. Additionally, social media and other online platforms provide unprecedented scope for the publication of uncensored commentary. Public confidence in the healthcare system can be a casualty, as can the professional reputations of the individuals involved.

As always, we will be joined at this year’s Health Forum by an impressive line-up of industry experts who will share their views, experiences and stories as we take a deep dive into the relationship between healthcare, media and the law. You can meet our speakers below.

BN’s Health Forum is a must attend event for all professionals working in or alongside healthcare who want to stay up-to-date on the trends and issues affecting the sector. But be quick, registration is free and places are limited.


  • Session 1: Lights, Camera, Lawsuit: Navigating the media’s impact on healthcare messaging

    Keynote session presented by Dr Norman Swan, multi-award winning broadcaster, journalist and commentator.

    The media plays a pivotal role in influencing public opinion and disseminating information. When healthcare issues become entangled in legal proceedings, the impact of the media becomes even more pronounced. The delicate balance between accurate reporting, responsible messaging, and the legal considerations at play can create a media minefield for healthcare professionals to navigate.

    Through the journalistic lens of our keynote speaker, Dr Norman Swan, this session will explore the dynamics of the media, the drivers for journalists, how media engagement actually works and whether accuracy needs to be a casualty. As one of Australia’s leading medical journalists, Dr Swan is uniquely placed to provide invaluable insights into medicine, media and how lawyers have similar dilemmas. Evidence-based messaging, accurate sources, failure to warn, and associated risks when reporting will be among the many topics examined by Dr Swan as he unveils the complexities of the media landscape.

  • Session 2: Healthcare in the court of public opinion: Is it the disease or the cure?

    Panel discussion moderated by barrister Lorna McFee, with panellists:

    When it comes to healthcare, the media's ability to influence public opinion has reached unprecedented heights. With its potential to drive significant shifts in public perception and policy decisions, it raises an important and ongoing debate regarding the media's impact on the right to a fair trial. Session one focuses on the more challenging aspects of media involvement from both a journalist’s and healthcare provider’s perspective, with concerns about the misrepresentation of health issues in the media which could have a significant impact on public confidence. On the other hand, recent history provides many examples of the positive impact of journalism as a channel of information to the community, as well as a tool for influencing policymakers through shaping public opinion. Healthcare providers, and the communities they service, share the same end goal of improving the quality of the healthcare system. Sometimes, perhaps, this requires a louder voice.

    In this session, we look at the role of media from all angles with a diverse panel of experts. The panel will explore the role of media and its potential to shape changes within both our healthcare system and our legal system. The panel will also discuss the challenges and opportunities that arise from media involvement in legal proceedings, while aiming to equip healthcare professionals with effective strategies to successfully navigate this complex landscape, and, importantly, minimise reputational damage.

Meet our speakers

  • Dr Norman Swan, ABC


    Dr Norman Swan is a multi-award winning broadcaster, journalist, and physician with extensive experience in the field of health and medicine. With a career spanning over three decades, Dr Swan is one of the first medically qualified journalists in Australia and has established himself as a reliable and recognised sources of health information for Australians.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Swan emerged as a go-to health correspondent, providing valuable insights to the Australian public. As the co-host of the daily ABC podcast Coronacast, he became one of the nation’s most trusted voices in breaking down the complexities of the pandemic.

    Dr Swan is also a co-host of ABC's Radio National longest running health program, The Health Report, in addition to featuring as a regular panellist on The Drum and guest reporter on Four Corners on ABC Television.

    With a background in medicine and paediatrics, Dr Swan's expertise is amplified by his investigative reporting skills. He has written two bestselling books, So You Think You Know What's Good For You? and So You Want To Live Younger Longer, both offering valuable insights into health and well-being.

    Dr Swan has been awarded the medal of the Australian Academy of Science, an honorary MD from the University of Sydney and a Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

  • Charlotte Grieve, The Age


    Charlotte is an investigative journalist with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, with a recent focus on healthcare regulation and medical negligence.

    She was formerly a business journalist, where she was awarded Citi Young Business Journalist of the Year in 2021 and 2022 for investigations into white collar crime.

    While Charlotte's main focus is newspaper journalism, she has produced a number of documentaries covering politics, business and healthcare and is currently working on a true crime podcast.

  • Dr David Wood, Mater Private Hospital


    Dr Wood is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the knee with approximately 25 years of practice experience. He has extensive expertise in ligament reconstruction, patella disorder, knee replacements and tibial osteotomy. Dr Wood also focuses on repair of hamstring avulsion from the ischial tuberosity.

    Dr Wood has held numerous membership positions, including his role as former chairman of the NSW branches of the Australian Orthopaedic Association and the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is also a past member of the Federal Prostheses and Devices Committee, the Knee Prostheses Advisory Group, the Medical Services Committee of NSW and MSAC (Medical Services Advisory Committee). He is a recent Secretary and President of the Australian Knee Society.

  • Matthew Richardson SC, 153 Phillip Barristers


    Matthew is a barrister specialising in media and defamation law. He has extensive trial experience and is retained for urgent applications involving injunctive relief and suppression orders. He appears for defamation plaintiffs and defendants and provides pre-publication advice.

    Matthew has appeared in actions involving both mass media and social media, including Channel Nine, Channel Seven, Google and Harbour Radio in the Supreme and District Courts of NSW and Federal Court of Australia. He has also acted in defamation-related workplace disputes for corporations such as the Commonwealth Bank. Matthew is the Chair of the NSW Bar Association’s Media and Information Law and Technology Committee.

  • Hannah Shiel, Barry Nilsson


    Hannah is a Special Counsel in our Insurance & Health team. Her areas of expertise include health law and professional indemnity, where she acts for a range of medical and health professionals and facilities.

    Throughout her career, Hannah has defended medical and allied health practitioners against professional negligence claims in both the District and Supreme Court. She is also recognised for her support to practitioners during coronial inquests.

    Having spent three years working in-house at a medical indemnity insurer in the professional conduct team, Hannah possesses an extensive understanding of the regulatory framework that governs medical practitioners and health professionals in their matters involving AHPRA, the Medical Council of NSW, and the Health Care Complaints Commission.

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