Your Questions Answered
Voluntary Assisted Dying laws give a choice about end-of-life to competent adults suffering from a terminal or advanced incurable illness that creates intolerable, unrelievable suffering. Although palliative care provides a great deal of support and pain relief, in some cases it is simply not enough.
DWDV believes that voluntary assisted dying is a dignified and reasonable choice for people to make when their medical conditions result in untreatable and incurable suffering and pain. We also believe that simply having the choice of assisted dying can be of great psychological benefit.
Having a choice means having control. Many people dealing with traumatic illness and suffering feel they are losing control of their situation and their own self. End-of-life choices, which include Voluntary Assisted Dying, can restore a sense of agency over their own lives.
DWDV fully supports the efforts of palliative care providers in Australia and will continue to support further funding for the palliative care industry.
However, there are instances where palliative care alone is insufficient in providing relief from intolerable suffering. For instance:
A motor neurone disease (MND) sufferer becomes progressively paralysed. Late in the disease, breathing can be seriously hindered. Many MND sufferers fear suffocating to death more than anything else and would prefer to go in a dignified manner whilst still being able to say goodbye to loved ones, rather than desperately gasping for breath.
Asbestosis sufferers not only gasp desperately for breath, but breathing is extremely painful.
A sufferer with cancer of the spine may have pain so severe that it can only be relieved by terminal sedation, whereby a patient is induced into a coma to relieve pain.
And for many patients, suffering is not just about pain. Suffering can include other factors such as loss of control of decision making, bowels or bladder, or such weakness that they are completely dependent on others for every intimate part of their daily care.
There are plans for a government-sponsored 24-hour hotline. DWDV has not been advised yet of the contact number for this service.
In the meantime:
- Consider whether you meet the criteria, listed above under “What are the conditions for accessing voluntary assisted dying?”
- If you think you do, and if your own doctor will not assist you and you cannot find another, contact Dying With Dignity Victoria, preferably by email office@DWDV.org.au, or by phone 0491 718 632.
Please note that the office is not attended all-day every-day. Please leave a message by email or phone and we will get back to you.
There is a number of steps to go through and it might be a lengthy process. You should talk to your doctor as soon your symptoms suggest you might want to seek VAD.
- You should ask your doctor if you would receive the support required if you needed it. If so, ask if that doctor has done the VAD training or intends to do it.
- Speak to your local member of parliament if you think there are defects in the legislation.
- Join DWDV. Our influence grows the more members we have.