Compassionate end-of-life care: Go Gentle Australia strategy success

We’ve been keeping an eye on progress with Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia, for a long time. We’ve reported on the mixed success made by various groups, but none more successful than Go Gentle Australia.

The efforts by many hundreds of people over many years while raising public awareness were unsuccessful in bringing about change at a policy or legislative level. Enter Go Gentle Australia, and things began to change – for the better. This post taken from a We’re 5 report, highlights how important it is to think outside the square, to bring ‘new eyes’ to the existing situation, to adopt strategies that are known to work in other quarters.

This is how we understand the Go Gentle Australia approach works: a 5 fold strategy that focuses on the core issues, ensuring that the time and energy devoted to the campaign is not wasted.

  1. Law-makers — politicians, who vote on legislation,
  2. Advisors to decision-makers — public officials who politicians receive advice from,
  3. Advocates and Lobbyists – people who are influential in presenting a case for or against a particular policy or policy change (in this instance medical and religious leaders),
  4. Opinion leaders — media and feature writers who can impact on public opinion,
  5. Community at large — public voice who need to be on-board and in favour of the policy such that it will be broadly accepted and that politicians know will be supportive if they vote in favour of the proposed new legislation

Join us in celebrating our 5th birthday!

At this critical juncture in the campaign for Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia, we’ve been reflecting on how far we’ve come – and how much you’ve helped us. Thank you!

Five years ago, Andrew Denton founded Go Gentle. His vision was to have better conversations about end of life choice, including the option of voluntary assisted dying.

Prior to 2016, there had been 50 attempts to pass VAD laws – but none was successful. MPs were reluctant to change the status quo, despite overwhelming public support for the reform. This meant no Australian had access to legal Voluntary Assisted Dying.

Andrew said at the time: “I wanted to inform the debate and I wanted to inflame the debate. I wanted politicians and doctors to stop sitting on their hands while Australians needlessly suffer.”

New tactics were needed.

In Victoria, Go Gentle adopted a new approach to elevate the public debate:

We directly challenged medical and religious resistance to change; we amplified the voices of dying people, too often ignored; and we provided meticulously researched, evidence-based resources to MPs to convince them to support this law. These inlcuded the book The Damage Done, describing the trauma across Australia in the absence of a VAD law; Ebooks that distilled the growing body of evidence from around the world about why voluntary assisted dying legislation is needed and safe; and, the influential Better off Dead podcast.

The new approach worked.

In 2017, Victoria made history by passing its landmark assisted dying law.

Fast forward to 2021 and almost 12 million Australians in Victoria, WA, Tasmania and SA have seen their governments pass laws for compassionate end of life choice.

We’re getting closer – but our work is not complete. Your unwavering support and generosity have helped us transform this debate in Australia.

Yet in our fifth anniversary year, we need your help more than ever to get legislation over the line for the other half of Australians still waiting on these laws.

NSW and Queensland will debate bills later this year – with pressure building in the Territories. These campaigns are set to be the toughest.

Overall, it is a good news story as we mark our fifth anniversary – MPs attitudes are shifting and more doctors and medical groups are coming out in support of end of life choice. Together we can keep the momentum going.
We are very grateful for your support — Kiki Paul, CEO.

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