Nov 29, 2017

Victoria Makes History As First State To Legalise Assisted Dying

Victorians with a terminal illness now have more choice and greater control over the last days and hours of their own lives following today’s historic passing of voluntary assisted dying laws.

Victoria is Australia’s first state to legalise assisted dying. After six weeks of debate, which included more than 100 hours and heated opposition, it was announced today that the  Lower House MPs ratified the amended bills.

“This is a day of reform, a day of compassion and a day of giving control to those who are terminally ill,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.

“I’m proud we have put compassion right at the centre of our parliamentary and political process.”

Health minister Jill Hennessy, who strongly campaigned for the bill said: “I hope the implementation of this Bill, really does start to give people some hope and some compassion that a good death will in fact be possible for people who are enduring difficult end of lives.”

“We’ve had some frustrating moments, but ultimately we have landed in a place where Victorians who are confronted terminal illnesses, that are enduring unbearable pains, will have a safe and compassionate option around assisted dying.”

There are still further steps to be taken to finalise the scheme, which will require some time. The law is not expected to not come into place until 2019.

“I know this is a disappointment to some people who have terminal illnesses, but the bill does require an 18-month implementation period,” she said.

“We have been very dedicated to the task of developing this bill and we’re going to be as equally dedicated to the task of getting a safe, sensible and robust system in place.”

People over 18 years of age, who are a Victorian residents and an Australian citizens, and have decision-making capacity at the end stages of their life are qualified for assisted death.

The new legislation allows for is terminally ill Victorians to be able to obtain a lethal drug within 10 days of a request to die.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘It takes courage for politicians to change their minds, to listen to those who are not well enough to organise campaigns or protest in the streets and to respond with such empathy.

“We have enormous respect for Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews for the intelligent and comprehensive consultation process that laid the foundations for passing this important law.”

“Under this law terminally ill Victorians, who make a voluntary assisted dying request, will have more access to palliative care options and further specialist review of their illness or condition and their choice will be covered by a safe legal framework. Importantly people will talk more to their doctors about the dying process,” she said.

“This has been a difficult ethical debate and while majority of our members support terminally ill Victorian’s right to choose voluntary assisted dying those who don’t will be able to conscientiously object to any involvement.”

“We look forward to making a contribution towards the work required over the next 18 months to prepare for the introduction of this legislation.”

“ANMF also welcomes the Andrews Government’s $62 million additional funding to strengthen palliative care services particularly in regional and rural Victoria,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

“Victoria needs a strong hospital and community palliative care nursing service and a robust, safe and a compassionate voluntary assisted dying choice if you meet tight criteria,” Ms Fitzpatrick said.

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