Formerly known as Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia

Tag: Dr Rodney Syme

Annual Newsletter 2024

Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying
Annual Newsletter and update April 2024

Dear Member/Supporter,
15 Years! It hardly seems possible that it is now 15 years since our group was formed, and I am delighted that all States in Australia have debated and passed Voluntary Assisted Dying laws enabling the choice of a compassionate end of life for those nearing death. Time and again I find it so rewarding to read reports of the peace of mind that getting the green light to access VAD gives people, and family often describe the passing of their loved one as peaceful and beautiful.
The Victorian VAD legislation has now been operating for five years. We are hopeful that the Australian Capital Territory will pass their legislation later this year. The Northern Territory has had a consultation process and may debate a bill after their next election. It is disappointing the NT had the first assisted dying legislation in the world with their Rights For The Terminally Ill Bill until it was overturned by the Howard Liberal government a year later.

Many of us have witnessed a loved one die with Dementia and would not want to go down that path themselves. Accessing VAD is not possible because mental capacity is required through the whole process of being assessed for VAD. One of the few other options available is to refuse administration of food and fluid using an Advanced Care Directive. This is an issue which can hopefully be addressed in the future.

Dr Rodney Syme discusses this situation in his book “A Completed Life” and it is available online from

How you can prepare:
1. Be informed of eligibility criteria in your state by checking out your local Dying with Dignity website or by contacting the Navigator Service in your state.
2. Be prepared : Have an up to date Advance Care Directive (ACD) which you have discussed with family, a valid will, Enduring Power Of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship in place.
3. Ask our own doctor if any doctor in the practice has done, or will do the VAD training course.
4. Contact your Federal MP and ask them to push for a change to restrictions on Telehealth for VAD which continue to disadvantage people in rural areas and those unable to travel to appointments. Lack of Medicare benefits for VAD also disadvantages poorer patients.
5. Consider attending a Death Cafe where the aspects of dying can be openly discussed, often with input from a Death Doula.

Overseas. Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Spain and NZ all have active VAD laws. VAD is currently legal in ten USA states plus the District of Columbia, and another 16 states are considering a bill.
An Irish parliament committee inquiry has heard from witnesses, both for and against a bill, including VAD experts from Australia.
Progress is being made in Iceland, New Jersey, Isle of Man, Scotland and France. While in UK 74% of the population are in favour of VAD but the parliament is lagging behind!

Sadly many Church hierarchies continue to be vocal in their opposition. 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. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Best wishes, Continue reading

A Completed Life – Dr Rodney Syme

This book presents Dr Syme’s views on the plight of people with dementia, and his suggestion for further legislative change. The book’s title reflects a life that has been long, and where all that was possible has been achieved – and so is in a sense ‘complete’. There follows consideration of the problems that may follow, and what may be a reasonable response.

I was privileged to be one of the people asked to review this book prior to publication and I can thoroughly recommend it.

You can order your copy from

Ian Wood

Bowral, Continue reading

World Right to Die Day 2022: World of Champions

There are many forces that differentiate us in the world: politics, religion, beliefs to name only a few. One thing that unites us is the desire to die with dignity. Asunción Alvarez, president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies said, “Around the globe, many people fight to make a death with dignity possible for themselves and those they love. It is these people that we would like to put in the spotlight for World Right to Die Day 2022; the Champions, who through their support, activism, fighting, writing, willpower, vision and strength, are advocating to make right to die legislation possible all over the world.”

Rob Jonquière, Executive Director said, “The World of Champions tells the stories of the parents, siblings, activists, doctors, supporters and volunteers who are working to make dying with dignity possible from all the corners of the earth. It is a testimony of their struggle and the complexities they face in championing the right to die with dignity. In some areas, the map is empty, and while there are certainly Champions in each of these countries, their efforts are shrouded in silence without right to die societies to support their cause and tell their story. We hope that they will join us in time.”

Click here for a map of world champions

It is truly humbling to find my name included in this 2022 list of Champions supporting Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation world wide.   To be next to names from Australia such as Dr Rodney Syme, Shayne Higson, Mike Gaffney MP and my friend Tanya Battel……….

My sincere thanks go to all those who have mentored and encouraged me to lobby for compassionate end of life choice.

Ian Wood    2.11.2022

By clicking on the above link for a map of world champions, a short summary of each ‘champion’ can Continue reading

The truth about end of life choices – Forum held in Sydney 11.11.2018


An outstanding group of experts gave us the facts in this Forum on voluntary assisted dying support. Essential viewing!

The emotional plea by Jan, wife of Tim Edwards, and their daughter, Jessica, who spoke at the meeting about the torturous death of Tim from mesothelioma certainly bought tears to my eyes! I just cannot understand why our MPs continue to ignore such futile suffering, especially those who profess to be Christian. Where is their compassion?

I had the privilege of meeting Tim not long before he died, and together we went to lobby our local MP, Jai Rowell.

Every MP who is against this choice, and all members of the ‘ACL” (Australian Christian Lobby) and the ‘HOPE no euthanasia’ group should watch the complete forum and become familiar with the truth behind the issue, and then perhaps understand why up to 85% of Australians support voluntary assisted dying.

Ian Wood


Excellent news from Victoria with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passing the upper house, with amendments, by 22 votes to 18

Yes, it is excellent news from Victoria with the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passing the upper house, with amendments, by 22 votes to 18.  It now goes back to the lower house to see if they will vote to accept the amendments and pass the Bill, so just one more hurdle to cross there!


Sincere thanks to Dying With Dignity Victoria and the team, Andrew Denton and the Go Gentle Australia/Stop Victorians Suffering team for your unstinting efforts and to every MP who voted for compassionate choice.


Shame that we failed by one vote in our NSW upper house a week earlier.


Ian Wood on behalf of all the members Australia-wide of Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia group.

VCAT rules in favour of Dr Rodney Syme

I am delighted with the news from DWDV (Dying with Dignity Victoria). Here is the item direct from their website.  VCAT is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.   Dr Rodney Syme is a person of great compassion and a doctor with true empathy for his patients. Post by Ian Wood.

DWDV Vice President, Dr Rodney Syme, cleared by VCAT

21 December, 2016

Dying With Dignity Victoria are delighted by the recent ruling in Dr Rodney Syme’s VCAT case, where he fought against a condition placed on his medical license by the Medical Board of Australia in relation to counselling that he was providing to a Victorian man.

From the final report:

“Dr Syme’s practise is limited to advising and assisting patients who are in the final stages of terminal illness and to whom a sense of control over their dying is important. His patients seek him out. He does not advertise for patients.

He therefore has contact only with those patients who self-identify as being part of a cohort for whom traditional palliative care options may not be acceptable. Having been contacted by them, he assists only those whom he is satisfied are in a sound state of mind and whose death from their disease is inevitable or whose disease has progressed to the extent that their lives have become intolerable to them.

It is widely accepted in palliative medicine that, consistent with this clause, doses of medicine may be given to patients to relieve their pain and suffering even though it is foreseeable and indeed inevitable that those doses will also have the effect of hastening the patient’s death. The use of morphine and sedatives for this purpose is widely accepted and meets the needs of many patients. However, not all patients wish to receive that form of palliative care because of the loss of dignity, control and comfort which can be associated with it.”

The final report on the case released by VCAT is an interesting read, frankly detailing the work that Dr Syme does in counselling people who are suffering from terminal or advanced incurable illnesses as they near the end of their lives.

In determining that Dr Syme’s practises and counselling are intended to relieve suffering and not primarily aimed at ending a person’s life, VCAT has ultimately found that Dr Syme’s practises are not a risk or a danger to the community. They cited his knowledge of palliative care, his extensive experience in counselling people who are irremediably suffering at the end of their lives and the professional manner in which he has conducted his counselling.

Read the full report by clicking here



Do you wish to be better informed about assisted dying issues? Suggested reading for 2016.

With new assisted dying Bills proposed for South Australia and Tasmania, the inquiry in Victoria and a cross party committee working on the issue in NSW, I am hoping there will be a breakthrough to give compassionate CHOICE in 2016.

Quebec Province in Canada in 2014, and California in USA in 2015 have shown Australia how it can be done in 2016!

Meanwhile if you would like to read more of the facts supporting CHOICE for assisted dying and/or voluntary euthanasia, please check out the following books Continue reading

Dr Rodney Syme – the speech on dying the RACP refused to listen to!

Full text of Dr Rodney Syme’s speech on the right to physician-assisted death – as prepared for the RACP Conference – May 2015.   “Quite long, but well worth reading,” says Ian Wood
Although I am nearly 80 years old and retired from surgery, I am still practising medicine. For over 25 years I have been counselling people about their end of life concerns. Those conversations are prolonged and open ended. At all times, I endeavour to help people to go as far with their lives as possible. From that experience I have learnt one invaluable lesson – my first self-evident truth – that giving people control over the end of their lives is one of the most valuable palliative tools we have at our disposal.
Today I am going to address the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of palliative care.
From humble beginnings, due to the compassion and energy of Cicely Saunders, palliative care has grown from a single London hospice to a world-wide specialty with strong government support. It is one of the most important developments in modern medicine. It aims to provide compassionate and holistic care for the terminally ill.
Examination of the at least 27 journals devoted to research into palliative care reveals an intuitively obvious conclusion – that ethical research in this area is fraught by a constantly moving target making accurate statistical analysis virtually impossible. Despite the subjective impression that most patients benefit from their hospice care, it has been exceedingly difficult to demonstrate any objective benefits for such care. Continue reading