Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passes in NSW!

Wonderful news today from New South Wales – the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has passed in the NSW Upper House after a ‘marathon debate’!

Its passage just after 12.30pm on Thursday 19 May is a landmark moment in the state, and means within 18 months people with a fatal diagnosis in NSW will be able to access voluntary assisted dying.

With Victoria leading the way with their bill in 2017, and other states following suit, New South Wales is now the final Australian state to legalise Voluntary Assisted Dying. The campaign remains to enable residents in NT and ACT to have the same rights to end-of-life choices.

Below is today’s announcement in full from Penny Hackett, President of Dying with Dignity NSW

SUCCESS…. The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has passed

We are today balancing excitement, relief and exhaustion after the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the NSW Upper House after a marathon debate in the NSW Upper House last night.

The final vote took place in the Upper House this morning with a majority of 23 to 15 votes. It was then rushed down to the Lower House where it was quickly ratified. 

Dying with Dignity NSW has been pursuing this reform for over 50 years and we have now achieved our aim of safe and compassionate laws which allow dying people a choice in their final days. 

We will provide a more comprehensive update shortly, along with details of how various MPs cast their votes. But first, we wanted to give our heartfelt thanks to MPs Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper (and their excellent staffers) for their bravery and persistence in battling a reluctant Parliament to get the VAD Bill on the agenda and through the Lower House in 2021.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Labor MLC Adam Searle for steering the Bill through notoriously unpredictable waters in the Upper House with great skill,  diplomacy, and unfailing respect for opposing views.

We could not have done this without the support of the 28 co-sponsors of the Bill and those MPs from across the political divide who voted to support this Bill.

Collaboration and bi-partisanship have become scarce commodities in our democracy. Perhaps the success of this Bill will prompt more of our elected representatives to put aside their differences and work constructively for the benefit of the community.

We thank the members of our NSW VAD Alliance and other key organisations who combined their voices in compassion for the terminally ill.

But most of all, we thank you for your unwavering support and generosity. This reform could not have been achieved without our tens of thousands of supporters across the state who have given so much of their time, their financial support and, most importantly, shared their most intimate and traumatic personal stories with NSW MPs and the media to prove the urgent need for this reform.

We are aware that some who have opposed this Bill will be fearful of the consequences of VAD laws and we appreciate that their concerns are genuinely held and that they too, are motivated by compassion for those at the end of their lives.

We want to assure those people that we do not see the success of this Bill as some kind of victory.Our overriding emotion is one of relief…..that the terminally ill and their loved ones and carers can now be spared terrible suffering in their last days.

We stand with them in our unqualified support for palliative care which provides vital care and support for so many dying people.We join them in calling for more funding and access to palliative care, especially in our regional and remote areas that are so poorly served in their access to healthcare.

Now that every Australian state has passed VAD laws, we must not forget the plight of the Northern Territory and ACT which are prevented by Federal laws from passing their own VAD laws. Once we know the outcome of the upcoming Federal election we will begin our campaign to restore the rights of the Territories. They should not be treated as second class citizens and deserve the same end of life rights as all other Australians.

We know we can count on your support to help correct this failure of democracy.

With our thanks and very best wishes,

Penny Hackett
President, Dying with Dignity NSW

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