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Portrait of Philip Nitschke
, 1998 (re-worked 2009)

by Amanda King

oil crayon and collage of printed magazine cuttings (frame: 120.0 cm x 178.7 cm, support: 114.3 cm x 173.2 cm)

Philip Nitschke (b. 1947) is the director of Exit International, a pro-choice voluntary euthanasia information and advocacy organisation. After gaining his doctorate in physics in Adelaide, he was a park ranger in the Northern Territory and worked with the Gurindji on the Wave Hill land claim in the 1970s. Following further study at Sydney University, he worked as a doctor at Royal Darwin Hospital from 1989 to 1994. The Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act came into operation in July 1996. Nitschke assisted four people to die of their own volition before the Act was overturned in the Senate in March 1997. Henceforth, it was illegal to help someone to die anywhere in Australia. Nitschke was Australian Humanist of the Year and Northern Territorian of the Year in 1997, New Zealand Humanist of the Year in 2001, and a candidate for Australian of the Year in 2005 and again in 2006. In 2014, Nitschke's medical licence was suspended amidst allegations he had supported the decision of a depressed but otherwise healthy man to take his own life. This decision was temporarily reversed on appeal in July 2015.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2009
Accession number: 2009.148