What the Ambassadors say.....
Relationship Mentor, Matchmaker, Social Commentator
|''It was without hesitation that I accepted the invitation to be an Ambassador for DWD because of views I'd expressed re the right we should have to choose to die in the book, The Last Right. My contribution, Go in Peace, was written after I had witnessed some of the pain and distress my mother endured for years associated with an inoperable tumour on her brain.
I applaud DWD for the significant impact it has had thus far on something so humane as our right to leave this life in peace''.
Prof Dennis Altman AM
Professorial Fellow in Human Security
Institute for Human Security and Social Change
La Trobe University
| ''Increasingly we live too long, facing pain, confusion and loneliness, and there needs to be a major review of how to ensure people can take control of their end of life with dignity and courage. It is strange that while politicians speak of their mandates for the policies that suit them, Australia’s Parliaments have shown such resistance to the strong support across the community for the principles upheld by Dying with Dignity''
Robyn Archer AO
Singer, Artistic Director, Public Advocate for the Arts
Photo: Claudio Rascella
|"My generation in Australia has been fortunate to grow up with great freedoms in life. Born into unprecedented post-war peacetime, we have had the precious privilege of championing freedom and pushing its boundaries as we grew and took our place in the world. How unjust it is to think that simple freedoms, such as the choice to marry as we wish, and the choice to determine our own time of death, should be denied us in the natural course of living and ageing, especially if great pain and suffering comes our way as it randomly does to so many. We are said to be a secular society: if that is true, then the religious and philosophical views of some ought not to dictate for others, the terms and conditions of their lives and deaths. Let us legislate for equality and freedom – aren’t they among the things this country should stand for?''
|''I became involved in Dying with Dignity after watching my strong, wonderful mother being denied any possibility of a peaceful death. She had a living will and was determined to avoid the fate of so many of her friends who spent their final days helpless and in misery. Yet that is just what happened. She had a fall, broke her hip and ended up in a surgical recovery ward. Then she had a pulmonary embolism, which should have delivered the fast, peaceful death she so wanted. She lingered for two horrible weeks. Everything went wrong. Struggling ineffectually to prevent the pain, intrusion, and endless assaults on her dignity that she suffered during this process tore me apart. Like most Australians I am very keen to support the case for voluntary assisted dying and applaud the efforts of Dying with Dignity Victoria to achieve much needed law reform''.
Henry Bosch AO
Former Chairman NCSC
|“That we shall die we know. The way we die can vary from a quick release to drawn out agony. Sometimes it is possible for individuals to choose their fate and it seems cruel and unreasonable that the law should restrict their choice and prohibit kind professional advice and assistance in making it”
Dr Sandra Bradley
Registered Nurse, Educator and Researcher in End of Life Care
|“Increasing longevity has distorted many facets of our current world, including acceptance of death. People facing a life-limiting illness may feel the pressure of family and loved ones who ask them to keep trying to survive - using up vast resources of finances, healthcare, and emotional and psychological support to do so. When a person has decided that their time is at an end, they should be able to openly gather their family and friends, say their goodbyes, and die with their dignity intact and with their choice of medical assistance."
Dr Edward Brentnall MBE OAM
Retired Emergency Physician
|"Following my professional experiences over many years in General Practice and Emergency Medicine, and with St Johns Ambulance Victoria, I passionately believe that when suffering has been relieved as far as is possible and when there is no possibility of a recovery or a cure, that a person be allowed to choose when and how they die?
I believe that is it the patient, and not the doctor, who should be enabled to make decisions regarding their own intolerable illness and death, and that this be incorporated in law''
Former Senator & Greens leader
|''As a former GP, I rue the fact that most doctors are fearful of letting their patients have control. How else can it be that most Australians want laws enabling 'death with dignity' yet, surveys show, most doctors oppose it. In particular, most palliative care medicos assert, wrongly, that if only there were enough funds they could guarantee everyone a good death. There is no medical prescription for the loss of dignity which a prolonged, painful and unsightly descent into death can occasion. My admiration goes to those doctors who accept voluntary euthanasia as the respectful right of their fellow citizens''
Dr Nick Carr
|''You know my wishes" Beverley had previously told me, "if something happens that means I can no longer live independently, will you kill me?" "No, Beverley, I'm afraid I can't promise you that." "In that case I'll have to kill myself before anything happens. I have to die before I want to, because I'm not prepared to risk waiting and perhaps find I've waited too long." Proud, fiercely independent, with no family and with all her close friends already dead, my patient Beverley Broadbent was getting older and more frail, but had no terminal illness. She was, however, not prepared to risk something such as a stroke that might leave her alive but no longer able to take matters into her own hands. In 2013 Beverley took her own life. We know that she is not alone in having had to make this choice. The law urgently needs to change so that the many people like Beverley are able to enjoy their twilight years in peace, knowing that their end-of-life wishes can be respected.
Professor Lyn Carson
University of Sydney Business School
|"I’d like everyday Australians to decide the rules about voluntary assisted dying. Having completed a research project which involved hundreds of thoughtful Australians discussing this issue face-to-face, in small groups, I am convinced that this is the way forward. We need to embark on a national conversation, culminating in a ‘jury’ of everyday, randomly-selected Australians who will deliberate, and make recommendations to elected representatives. Parliamentarians tend to share similar values and are not well placed to reflect the views of their diverse constituencies. We need a different approach—one that will engender trust''
Hon Robin Chapple
MLC for Mining and Pastoral Region, WA
|"'Robin has been a long-time advocate for voluntary euthanasia, having previously presented two bills in state parliament in 2002 and 2010 to empower the terminally ill to choose the manner of their death. After supporting his mother through her pain towards the end of her life, Robin has experienced first-hand the suffering that no amount of palliative care can truly combat. He believes that a terminally ill person, who is sound of mind and comes to this significant decision without coercion from others, should have the right to end their life with dignity''.
Contributor to The Age
|''I am a contributor to the Age newspaper writing about economics. I am a longstanding supporter of physician assisted dying (PAD) and a member of the Board of Dying with Dignity Victoria. The need for law reform is clear and strongly supported by the public. Under the twin pressures of the aging population and advances in medical technology PAD will become more widespread. As I argued in my article for the DWDV newsletter (Spring 2013, Issue 164), the case for decriminalising the current de facto recognition of VAD is that it is both inequitable – in that it is more easily available to those who have the knowledge to use the system – and covert. Unregulated practices are more open to abuse and undermine patient autonomy. I believe I can make a real contribution to the cause of law reform as an Ambassador for Law Reform''
Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC
Former Judge and Human Rights Advocate
|''I believe everyone faced with a terminal illness or the gradual obliteration of the mind by Alzheimer's or other dementia should be able to choose the time for their death and have the right to seek assistance for that purpose''
Prof Ross Fitzgerald AM
Emeritus Professor of History & Politics at Griffith University; Author
|"I have been a strong public advocate of Dying with Dignity since the 1990s when my mother died after a long illness during which she suffered terribly. Complications of her conditions had led to blindness and to the amputation of both her legs. Despite her stated wish to die with some peace and dignity, and my request that all the “Jesus machines” be turned off, she continued to have interventions for a variety of illnesses and complaints. Only when I repeatedly insisted that my mother’s life-support machines be switched off did the hospital physicians finally relent, and allow her to die. My mother’s dying and death was both very difficult and unnecessarily lengthy, and is one of the reasons why my family and I decided to join Dying with Dignity and after that the Australian Sex Party, whose motto is 'Your Life.Your Choice!' My Dying with Dignity commitment is a central reason why, in 2016, I decided to stand for federal parliament as the Australian Sex Party's lead Senate candidate for NSW".
Dr Warren Johnson AM
|''I became an ambassador of DWDV because I am very aware of the dilemmas around death and dying. I certainly expect my wishes to be heeded if I develop a terminal illness and see no reason why society should prevent me from having my wishes fulfilled. Of course I extend this to all citizens''.
Dr Rosemary Jones
|''I have been plagued for years about the frustration endured when meeting with the 'desperate dying' for whom I can offer no relief when palliative care has exhausted its resources. I was active in petitioning the Australian Medical Association to change its stance away from opposition; that matured into the formation of the group whose website now is http://drs4vechoice.org. Typical of the kind of correspondence we receive is:
I am not sure whether this is an appropriate question, but can you help us
find a doctor who would help us fulfil my mother 's wishes for voluntary euthanasia. She's 95, terminal cancer suffer, had a stoke 5 years ago, has been begging us ever since. Cruel to watch. We love her. Thanks. (sic).
There is very little that I can offer this distressed petitioner that is within the law.'I am also increasingly angry about how it would appear that the Catholic Church seeks to control the lives of those of us of no faith. Let them live their lives according to their own lights say I, and leave the rest of us to choose to live and die as we wish''.
Dr Murray Lloyd
Consultant, Geriatrician - retired
|"My key philosophy is we must keep the rigid approaches of church and legal profession out of the decision making team.
As long as two clinicians are involved in the situation I think this is reasonable protection against the “slippery slope” people are understandably obsessed with"
Hon Rod Mackenzie OAM
Former Victorian Minister
|Rod Mackenzie joined VESV in the mid-seventies just prior to being elected to State Parliament as the MLC for Geelong Province in 1979. He had recently witnessed the prolonged death of a close relative.
Following representation from Tim and Beryl Saclier of VESV, they drew up, with the aid of Parliamentary Counsel, a private members bill entitled "Refusal of Medical Treatments Bill" which was introduced to the Parliament in 1980. As he was an opposition member the Bill only reached the second reading debate and was adjourned by the Government.
In 1981 he again put the bill forward with the same result. In 1982 he became the Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands and requested the new health Minister Tom Roper to proceed with a bill. He requested advice from the Health Advisory Council who, after examining the bill recommended it for introduction.
Nothing happened until 1985 when new Health Minister David White was approached and handed it to the Parliamentary Social Development Committee for investigation. After an exhaustive inquiry lasting 18 months the committee recommended the bill should be drawn up. It was introduced and passed in 1987.
After retiring from politics, Rod Mackenzie has continued to lobby for dying with dignity, writing letters and newspaper articles, and speaking to community groups and politicians. He was awarded the Order of Australia in 1999 for his services to the Geelong Community.
Hon Ian Macphee AO
Lawyer and former minister in the Fraser Government
|''As Member for Goldstein (1974-90), I frequently visited retirement homes and viewed the deterioration in the quality of life of residents. While most retained a positive spirit for a long time, as they aged most felt that, despite visits from families and friends, life had no worth for them and so they often expressed a wish to die with medical assistance. As I have aged, I have witnessed this same wish expressed amongst family and friends. I passionately believe that we all have the right to decide to die with dignity''.
Emeritus Professor Carmel McNaught
Emeritus Professor of Learning Enhancement; Consultant in Higher Education
|''We all must die and being able to exercise choice about how best to leave this life with dignity is, in my view, a clear right in a secular, democratic state such as Australia. We are a complex, pluralist society with respect to beliefs about life, its origins, its value and its purpose. We as a nation hold this freedom of belief as a right and a strength of our national identity. We also pride ourselves in having a humane and caring society, which means that the rights of those who are fragile as a result of serious ill health must be acknowledged. Let’s be open in our discussions about end-of-life choices, respect that there is a multiplicity of views, and legislate so that individual rights and beliefs are treated with integrity and fairness. No-one need die alone!
Gordon Moffatt AM
Former Deputy Mayor, Melbourne
|"I didn’t have the right of entry into this world but I would like the right to exit when I wish. Having reached the ripe old age of 84 I have seen far too much pain and suffering by my peers including my late wife and mother. Both wished to exist earlier. When will our politicians see sense?"
Prof Rob Moodie AM
Professor of Public Health at the Melbourne School of Population Health,
and from July 2015 he will take up a new post as Professor of Public Health
at the College of Medicine, University of Malawi
|''I believe that an essential part of a good and dignified life is a good and dignified death, and that the key to choosing and achieving this is control. This is about having as much control as we can in the decisions that affect how we die. And to maximise the control we can have involves preparing, understanding our rights under the law, and communicating well with our family and close friends about developing an advanced health care directive and appointing an enduring power of attorney (for one’s medical treatment).
I am an Ambassador for Law reform because I believe we must have a legal framework that gives us all as much control to achieve, as much as is possible, a dignified and good death. And the law must be clear to support the involvement of family, friends and carers''.
Robert Richter QC
Barrister, Human Rights Promoter
|"There is something deeply offensive, cruel and discriminatory about it being illegal to get assistance in the performance of my last act of free choice in life. The act of suicide used to be a crime. It is no longer so. What this means is that if I chose the time of my death, I can exit provided I am physically able and have the means to perform it. If I am moribund, and/or am physically incapacitated and suffering life, but have no means to carry out my desire, my choice to end it lawfully means that I have to burden someone – usually someone close to me – and risk their liberty because the law says they can’t help me.
There is something indecent about forcing a person to continue an intolerable life and the sole choice given to them is to get help by putting someone close to them up against the law. The law must change to reflect the will of the people which is no longer dictated to by religion and those who claim special communications with an authority I don’t recognise''
Doreen Rosenthal AO FASSA
Emeritus Professor, developmental psychologist now retired.
|"Having enabled my beloved pets to die at a time when their quality of life was unbearably difficult, I find it extraordinary that this comfort cannot be offered to humans. The knowledge that I could control the timing of my death would help me deal with the pain of terminal illness or the terror of losing my mind through dementia. I believe everyone should have the right to choose when to die and to be assisted in that dying if they so wish. Law reform is essential so that this can occur in a legal and ethical manner."
Dr Harry Rundle FRACS FRCS FRCSE
Surgeon Alfred and Cabrini Hospital - retired
|''Many of us have seen the suffering and degradation that may be associated with the end stages of ageing. It is heart breaking for the family. Most would readily agree that “this is not for me”. But it may well be.
I firmly believe in one’s right to have control of this stage of life and to be able to minimise suffering and loss of dignity voluntarily. It should not be left to others.
This process is well established in several countries and is free of adverse interference''
News Reader and Journalist
|"I watched my beloved mother, Marcia, die in agony from pancreatic cancer. Mum and Dad always said to my sister and I, "If we end up terminally ill, please, put us down, like dogs". I always assumed I'd be able to find a sympathetic doctor or nurse to help. But the law prevents this. What kind of society condemns its citizens to such a horrific end? This is why I support the cause of voluntary assisted dying"
Dr John Stanton
General Practitioner and Health Educator
|''Early in my medical career I looked after a man dying from oesophageal cancer. I had never been trained to look after people during the last phase of their life and did not receive any supervision on this occasion. I always thought that I could do better''
Dr Rodney Syme
DWDV Vice President
|"'Since 1972 I have been committed to endeavouring to relieve suffering at the end of life. That year, as a young surgeon, I treated a woman with incurable cancer in the spine. Her nerve and bone pain was persistent, unrelievable and unbearable. As a doctor, I had the knowledge and access to the means to achieve dying in a dignified way, but I could not legally help her. Personally, I had no doubt that had I been in her position I would have ended my own life. From that time, I found myself inevitably drawn into helping people who were dying, in a range of circumstances. My conscience and my respect for other human beings would not allow otherwise. Realising that the law was opaque, leading to extremely arbitrary and often cruel end of life experiences, I became committed to law reform. I joined VESV, now Dying with Dignity Victoria, in 1991, serving 12 years as president; and subsequently as vice-president. I continue to provide counselling to people in need, and to write, lobby and advocate for laws that will ensure the rights of all suffering people to choose the time and circumstances of their dying and death''
|Both professionally and as an activist I have had a longstanding commitment to law reforms which protect civil liberties, personal autonomy and self-determination. As a legal academic my area of research and teaching focussed on the intersection of law, medicine and ethics, including end-of-life decisions.
As an activist in the NGO sector over several decades I have served (and continue to serve) on a range of committees concerned with civil liberties, rationalism/humanism, women's equality and reproductive health rights. I believe that individuals are entitled to make decisions about their life and death in accordance with their own beliefs and values and that the law should reinforce that position. DWDV is working to achieve legislative reform to ensure end-of-life choice for individuals — an objective supported by the overwhelming majority of Australians — and I am pleased to be part of that effort.