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The Exit Internationalist

Philip Nitschke

Based in the Netherlands, Philip Nitschke PhD, MBBS, BSc (Hons) is the Founder of Exit International.

In 1996, Philip became the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, lethal voluntary injection under the short-lived Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT).

Four of Philip’s terminally ill patients used this law to end their suffering before the law was overturned in March 1997 by the Australian Parliament.

The same year, Philip retired from medical practice to found the Voluntary Euthanasia Research Foundation (now called Exit International).

Despite not practicing as a doctor for well over a decade, Philip’s medical registration was suspended by the Australian Medical Board in July 2014. A decision on 7 July 2015 by the Northern Territory Supreme Court found the Board’s decision to be unlawful and Dr Nitschke’s right to be registered as a medical practitioner in Australia was immediately restored.

The conditions which the Medical Board placed upon his medical registration, for reason of his political views, can be viewed here.

After surveying the membership of Exit in November 2015, overwhelming support was shown for Philip continuing his work at Exit International. On 27 November 2015, Dr Nitschke formally burned his medical registration certificate, ending a 25 year career in medicine.


Born in 1947 in rural South Australia, Philip studied physics at the University of Adelaide, completing a PhD at Flinders University in laser physics in 1972.

Instead of a career in the sciences, Philip took off for the Northern Territory to work with the Aboriginal land rights activist, Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people at Wave Hill.

After the hand-back of land by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Philip became a NT Parks & Wildlife ranger. A serious accident to his foot saw Philip return to university, graduating from Sydney University Medical School in 1988.

Philip’s autobiography Damned If I Do (with Peter Corris) was published by Melbourne University Press in 2013.

Philip can be contacted on +316 309 66992

Philip Nitschke on BBC’s Hard Talk – April 2015

Is Rational Suicide a Human Right?


Philip’s work has been recognised by the following:

Rainier Foundation Humanitarian Award, 1996

Northern Territorian of the Year, 1997

Australian Humanist of the Year, 1998

Charles Southwell Award (NZ Association of Rationalists & Humanists), 2001

Philip is a eight-time nominee for Australian of the Year (2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) and twice a state finalist (2005 & 2006).

Philip says it is not for him to dictate when and how a person of sound mind should take their final step.

I believe it is a fundamental human right for every adult of sound mind, to be able to plan for the end of their life in a way that is reliable, peaceful & at a time of their choosing.