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A woman who regrets saving the life of her daughter’s rapist. A woman who decided to donate her perfectly healthy kidney to a perfect stranger. A man who walked past someone dying on a mountain – and says he’s thought about that decision every day since.

They all join Insight this week to discuss whether there is any moral obligation to save a life. What if it means putting your own life at risk, or saving someone you despise or hardly know?

We also look at cases where someone in dire need has been ignored – sometimes with fatal consequences. Psychologists refer to this as “the bystander effect” which says that if there are multiple people at the scene of a crisis, everyone assumes someone else will be the one to step in to help.

One guest on the program wants a “duty to rescue” law, effectively forcing Australians to help others if they are in danger.

Presenter: Jenny Brockie  
Producer: Elise Potaka
Associate Producer: Luan McKenna

Meet the Guests

  • Sam Porter

    When he was 16 years old, Sam Porter jumped onto train tracks to save the life of a suicidal teenager. Since then he has also helped save a woman from drowning and helped another person in a car accident. His friends have nicknamed him "Hero". Sam says that, for him, saving a life is an automatic response and he thinks you shouldn't walk away when you see someone in trouble.

  • "Angela"

    “Angela” saved the life of the man who raped her 11-year-old daughter. The man was Angela’s ex-partner. He tried to commit suicide a few weeks after the sexual assaults came to light. When Angela found him unconscious she gave him CPR and called an ambulance. She now regrets the decision to save him and wishes he was dead.

  • Mark Inglis

    In 2006, New Zealander Mark Inglis became the first double amputee to summit Mount Everest. But his achievement soon became famous for another reason: Mark’s decision to walk past a distressed fellow climber and continue on his way to the summit. The climber subsequently died. Mark says he feels regret about the death but says he had no other choice as it was too risky to stop the climb in such extreme conditions.

  • Margaret Hamilton

    Margaret Hamilton donated one of her kidneys to a stranger. In the lead-up, she spent 18 months getting fit and healthy and underwent physical and psychological tests. Margaret says it didn't matter to her that she didn't know the person for whom she was making the sacrifice. She believes if you've been lucky in life you should do something for those less fortunate.


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