Formerly known as Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia

Tag: Rev Trevor Bensch

Ian Wood, Co-founder of Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying group awarded Life Membership of VADSA

On Saturday 23rd July, 2022, during a brief visit to South Australia, I was delighted to be presented with an Honorary Life Membership Award by Frances Coombe, President of Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia (VADSA).

Ian Wood receiving Life Membership Award from Frances Coombe.

In accepting this Award, I expressed my thanks to Frances Coombe and the VADSA team for this recognition, and my humble gratitude to every person who has helped our group in so many ways, and who have continued to motivate me in my work of advocating for Voluntary Assisted Dying as an additional compassionate end-of-life choice from the aspect of Christian support.

I recalled that I first found out about SAVES, as it was known then, late in 2004 .  My Mother was dying in the last stages of Alzheimer’s in December, and I wrote to our local MP Rob Kerin and to the Premier Mike Rann challenging them to go and visit my Mother in her terrible emaciated condition – saying there must be better and more compassionate ways of dying.  Of course they never came. Sadly, access to VAD is still not available to those with dementia related illnesses in Australia.

My activity really started when late in 2008 Frances Coombe asked me and also Rev Trevor Bensch to consider forming a Christian support group.  Trevor had previously written letters to the SA MPs in support in 2007.  Then the three of us met in the North Adelaide Baptist Church Vestry and Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Euthanasia was officially formed 9.2.2009. We had our first article in the Advertiser on 23rd Feb 2009 by Jill Pengilly.

Now, every state has passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying law, amazing progress over the last few years.   It is a recognition that while good palliative care is important, the additional VAD choice is also needed, providing great peace of mind to those using it.

Ian Wood, National Co-ordinator and Spokesperson, Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying.  Continue reading

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

New South Wales passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – the 6th and final state!

May 19, 2022  It took many years of lobbying for this additional compassionate end of life choice, however the NSW Legislative Council, after considering around 100 adverse amendments in a long debate, and rejecting them all, passed the final stage of the VAD Bill 2021 by a substantial majority of 23 votes to 15. The Bill had passed the Lower House 52 votes to 32 on the last sitting day of 2021.   The final version of the VAD Bill was then adopted in the Lower House on 19.5.2022.

A previous NSW Bill was lost by just one vote in 2017, about the same time Victoria passed their VAD Act.

This is an emotional time, as I think back to my late friend and mentor, Rev Trevor Bensch, who co-founded our group with me early in 2009.  Trevor was a hospital chaplain, and some of what he had witnessed led him to support the VAD choice.  We met with The Advertiser reporter Jill Pengelley in the vestry of North Adelaide Baptist Church, and this article was our first piece of publicity!

We have updated our terminology since to reflect that used in all Australian VAD legislation.

Above: Rev Trevor Bensch with our first Patron, Kym Bonython AC, DFC, AFC

I must thank every person who has written and spoken to MPs, those who have shared their stories of loved ones who endured needless suffering at the end of their lives, every Voluntary Assisted Dying Group in each state and territory, Andrew Denton and the team at Go Gentle Australia, Rev Dr Craig de Vos B.V.Sc., Dip.P.S., B.Th.(Hons.), Ph.D., and so many others who have assisted me in our part in reaching this goal. Huge thanks go also to Alex Greenwich MP, all the co-sponsors of the VAD Bill, Adam Searle MLC for his work in the Legislative Council, and every MP who spoke and voted to pass the Bill.

Of course the final step in VAD legislation throughout Australia is to have the Right of the Territories to enact VAD legislation restored.  This was taken away in what is known as the ‘Andrews Bill’ by the Howard Government, after our Northern Territory under the guidance of Marshall Perron became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass a ‘Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995’ to give end of life choice.

We do need to be aware that it will be18 months before VAD actually becomes available in NSW, to allow for setting up all the facets of the Bill re access.

To those who have opposed this legislation – we do remind you that the key word is voluntary and there is no compulsion for you to use the law in any way.  We all support more funding for palliative care, and better access to palliative care in remote and country areas, but also know that the Voluntary Assisted Dying choice is needed in addition to the best possible PC.

History has been made and the wishes of Continue reading