DWDV was informed today by a supporter that leaflets are being delivered to constituents of the Federal electorate of Aston, in which a by-election will be held on April 1, 2023.
The leaflets state that they are authorised by M. Tighe, The Right to Life Australia Inc., 161a Donald Street Brunswick East, Vic 3057.
DWDV would like to correct the leaflets’ false assertion that over 900 deaths due to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) have already been officially recorded by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board. In its most recent report of operations (covering the period July 2021 to June 2022), the Board stated that approximately 604 deaths from VAD have occurred in Victoria in the three years to 30 June 2022 – “Since the commencement of the Act, 1,292 applicants have died following their first assessment. Of these, 901 were issued with a permit and 604 permit holder deaths were as a result of using the substance.”
The leaflets also state that, “Tragically all states (and soon to be territories) have now legalised suicide…”. In addition to the misleading conflation of VAD with suicide, it should be noted that the Chief Minister of the NT has announced that Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation will not be looked at in the current parliamentary term of government. The ACT has begun a public consultation on a proposed VAD Bill and has released a discussion paper, seeking community views to VAD.
Finally, it was concluded that “..a person will be able to be assessed for doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia via electronic communication with a doctor who may not have even met them.” This fails to acknowledge that the VAD process in all Australian jurisdictions requires at least two independent assessments by appropriately qualified medical practitioners. It should not be assumed or implied that all assessments will be conducted via telehealth.
DWDV considers the issue of VAD telehealth assessments and consultations as one of critical importance. Many people, particularly in regional and rural areas of Victoria, are unable to access VAD assessments in their local area, and must travel long distances to attend assessment appointments. Many of these individuals experience significant pain and distress due to these travel requirements, or are unable to travel any distance at all, leaving them unable to access VAD. Allowing the use of telehealth for VAD consultations and assessments simply removes cruel and unnecessary barriers to accessing VAD for terminally ill, dying individuals, and promotes equality of access to VAD for all Victorians.
DWDV is apolitical and neither endorses nor opposes any political party. While this leaflet is obviously being distributed for political ends, our response to it is in order to correct the significant inaccuracies and misinformation it contains about VAD.