In this 2022/2023 Newsletter we celebrate the passing of Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation in every Australian State with New South Wales, the final state passing their VAD bill in May 2022. Importantly, as I write this letter the VAD legislation is now active in 5 states with NSW set to join them 28th Nov 2023. Time and again people report the peace of mind that getting the green light to access VAD gives them. Family often describe the passing of their loved one as peaceful and even beautiful.
Persistent lobbying by state Dying with Dignity Groups, Andrew Denton (listen to this excellent interview https://7ampodcast.com.au/episodes/spotlight-how-death-became-the-fight-of-andrew-dentons-life) and his Go Gentle Australia team, along with our group, and individuals,culminated in this incredible progress, in the last five years.My late friend and mentor Rev. Trevor Bensch would have been delighted at this progress – something that we have been working for since we co-founded the group in February 2009. I sincerely thank all members of our group who contacted MP’s, wrote letters, signed petitions, made donations etc.
The Australian Capital Territory recently called for submissions to help develop their guidelines for a proposed VAD bill and it appears this could be debated this year. Interestingly the ACT are looking to have a point of difference and hopefully it will overall be a better model by combining the better points of each state VAD act. I have made a submission to ACT on behalf of our group.The Northern Territory disappointingly has said they will not discuss a new bill until after their next election.
Victoria and Western Australia will be reviewing their VAD laws this year. It is hoped that the new federal government which is more sympathetic to VAD legislation will review the restriction on telehealth access, and move to cover VAD services by medicare benefits.
Overseas. Austria’s VAD law is now in effect. Canada is considering an in depth report to improve their law MAiD as the VAD law is known as in Canada. Ireland & Scotland and UK have not progressed since last year . A number of USA states are considering legislation in addition to the 11 States and territories that have VAD access. Portugal are trying to get their legislation finalised. France is due to present a report by the end of the year following overwhelming support by the French Citizens’ Council.
Sadly Church hierarchy, for example, the Catholic Diocese of Sydney and some conservative “liberal” politicians continue not to accept the social change of VAD and are actively trying to reverse the legislative progress, despite 3 out of 4 Catholics supporting VAD as a compassionate end-of-life Choice. For example, Monica Doumit published a call to arms in the Catholic Weekly. I made a detailed response to the fears, lies and distortions she had in this article but the Catholic Weekly refused to publish this response even though we offered to have it in a paid advert. If a reader would like a copy of this response please contact me via our website. Because of this continued opposition and the need to have the laws passed in the territories, it is hoped that you will continue to be a member of our group.
It is hoped that the recent Advance Care Planning week has made people more aware of the need for a comprehensive Advance Care Directive particularly in respect to stating wishes should dementia become an issue. PLEASE discuss your end of life wishes with your family, and appoint a person to speak on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Despite experiencing severe ill health my desire to advocate for VAD continues. Best wishes, Ian