Decision making for dying with dignity and for care in later life

There’s a new campaign to introduce voluntary assisted dying in NSW.

Alex Greenwich, the independent Member for Sydney, (pictured here with Greg Piper, the independent Member for Lake Macquarie), has released his draft Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 for consultation before he introduces it into parliament later in August or in September.

A lot has changed since voluntary assisted dying failed to pass the Legislative Council by one vote in 2017.

“Four years ago, no other state had progressed with voluntary assisted dying, now every other state has,” Mr Greenwich told AAP.

That drastically boosts the chances of success this time, he says, as NSW has “tried and tested” laws interstate to model theirs off.

“(They have) been able to show that a lot of the concerns of opponents are actually not borne out in reality,” he said.

Under Mr Greenwichs’s bill, voluntary assisted dying will be accessible to adults with a terminal illness that will cause death within six months – or 12 months for neuroegenerative conditions – and where suffering cannot be tolerably relieved. A person must have decision-making capacity and be acting voluntarily, without coercion, and must undergo two independent eligibility assessments by two doctors.

The draft bill has the support of Dying with Dignity NSW and Go Gentle Australia. A survey of 2344 Health Services Union members found 89 per cent supported the union joining the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Alliance to help advance the draft laws. Council of the Ageing (COTA) NSW has also stated its support.

For more check out these articles: NSW to consider assisted dying legislation and Plans for new law in NSW

On a not unrelated note, it’s worth thinking in a holistic way about life, especially those end times, that many of us think will never come. So it’s disappointing to report that: Talking about these end of life (EOL) issues is still a subject that is avoided by many people.

Seventy per cent of Australians aged 65-plus are sidestepping the opportunity to control their EOL care, with men less likely to plan than women. This is perhaps surprising when we consider that many men spend a considerable amount of time and effort working on other aspects of their lives, such as retirement planning and wills.

We really should consider EOL planning as part of a total Advance Health Care Plan (AHCP) package and all of this as part of wills and what happens next, regardless of what age we are.

There’s no lack of information to help get started. All that’s needed is a call to Advance Care Planning Australia on 1300 208 582 or log onto advancecareplanning.org.au

The Booklet with a template form at the back is available here: Health Advance Care Directive

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