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Here is a brief of all the relevant information that you need to know.
Current law in Victoria
The are currently no laws in Victoria that allow a person who is terminally ill or suffering from intolerable and unrelievable pain to enable a doctor to assist them to die.
Despite a very high percentage of the public who support it (since the 1980s, support has hovered between 70 and 80% for assisted dying laws), the Government has refused to pass legislation.
Dying with Dignity - a timeline
You can view a more detailed history of DWDV's work over the decades HERE
The Inquiry into End of Life Choices
The final report of the Inquiry was tabled in Parliament on June 9, 2016. The comprehensive report reflected the amount of work and research that the Inquiry committee had undertaken. In all, there were 49 recommendations made in the report relating to palliative care, advance care directives and assisted dying. Most important was the final recommendation:
Recommendation 49: That the Victorian Government introduce a legal framework providing for assisted dying, by enacting legislation based on the assisted dying framework outlined in this report.
The Victorian Parliament to debate voluntary assisted dying laws in 2017
The Government responded to the voluntary assisted dying recommendations made in the Inquiry into End of Life Choices on December 9, 2016, saying that they would introduce an assisted dying bill into Parliament in the second half of 2017. The process will be boosted by the appointment of a Ministerial Advisory Committee that will assist the Government in developing legislation. The committee is made up of representatives from the health sector, law sector, palliative care industry and disability sector.
Dying With Dignity Victoria statement on the Government's plan to introduce assisted dying legislation:
December 8, 2016
The Andrews government has today committed to developing legislation enabling a terminally ill person with only months to live to end their life in a safe and controlled manner.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the debate respects people’s views and people’s lives.
Recommendations of the Inquiry into End of Life Choices included the need for assisted dying laws in Victoria to give Victorians who are suffering at the end of their lives the ultimate choice should they be experiencing unrelievable and intolerable pain.
The state government responded to these recommendations by pledging to table legislation in 2017. In announcing their plans, Health Minister Jill Hennessy noted that there was majority support for assisted dying laws in the community.
She said she believed the health system was failing a small group of people whose pain was not alleviated by palliative care: "I genuinely do think there is strong community sentiment in support of assisting people who make a choice to die at the end of their life when they are enduring unbearable suffering."
"I don't think this is a left versus right issue. I don't think it's a matter of ideology. I genuinely think it is about people having dignity at the end of their lives."
DWDV made a significant submission to the Inquiry into End of Life Choices and has continued to advocate for safe and compassionate assisted dying laws in Victoria.
DWDV president, Lesley Vick, is committed to advocating for people’s end of life choices:
“The overwhelming majority of Victorians who support assisted dying will welcome this announcement from the government,” she said.
“We now look forward to the Victorian parliament enacting a humane and compassionate law based on the thoroughly researched and evidence-based report of the End of Life Choices inquiry.”
Noted assisted dying spokesperson and DWDV vice-president, Dr Rodney Syme, believes there is a lot of work to be done to inform politicians and the public as to how laws will work to keep vulnerable people safe, while providing relief for those suffering at the end of their lives.
“It is essential that the legislation be clear and workable and that it contains sufficient safeguards to address the concerns of the community." Dr Syme said.
“This is not rocket science, as many jurisdictions in Europe and North America have been able to create legislation that functions well and without abuse.”
News articles and media
There was a large amount of news attention on the assisted dying issue following the Governments response to the Inquiry report. View some of our highlights below:
- ABC TV: My life, my choice: Sue Jensen
- The Age Editorial: Why our lawmakers should legalise physician-assisted death.
DWDV will be campaigning hard in 2017 to ensure that Victorian Members of Parliament are aware of how important voluntary assisted dying laws are to the people of Victoria.
There is a lot of work to be done so we hope that you will join us in raising awareness of the need for people who are suffering from terminal or advanced incurable illness to have real end of life choices.
There are a number of ways that you can contribute towards the fight to securing legislation in Victoria: