As­sisted Dy­ing Bill passed in Vic­to­rian par­lia­ment

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Rhi­an­non Tuffield

Ter­mi­nally ill pa­tients in Vic­to­ria will be­come the first in Aus­tralia to ac­cess med­i­cal eu­thana­sia, af­ter a bill was passed through the state’s lower house last month.

Fol­low­ing more than 100 hours of de­bate across both houses of Par­lia­ment and two overnight sit­tings, Lower House MPs ap­proved the amended As­sisted Dy­ing Bill.

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed said she had voted in favour of the leg­is­la­tion and was pleased that the bill had passed af­ter a chal­leng­ing process.

The leg­is­la­tion will go through an 18-month im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod, be­fore it comes into ef­fect in June 2019.

Ms Sheed said she be­lieved lim­ited num­bers of peo­ple would take ad­van­tage of the vol­un­tary as­sisted dy­ing, but many would be com­forted by the op­tion to choose.

‘‘At the end of the day, I am com­fort­able with the bill and the amend­ments made to it,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘There’s a lot more work to be done, reg­u­la­tions will be drawn up and there will be a lot of train­ing for med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers and other peo­ple who are go­ing to be en­gaged with the process.

‘‘I would hope that a new in­vest­ment in pal­lia­tive care will be rolled out to re­gional ar­eas, be­cause what we do want to see is that peo­ple have a gen­uine choice.’’

The leg­is­la­tion is the re­sult of 21⁄ years of ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion

2 and en­gage­ment with MPs, com­mu­nity, and the health, pal­lia­tive care and le­gal sec­tors.

But State Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Wendy Lovell main­tained she was dis­ap­pointed about a lack of con­sul­ta­tion around the draft bill.

‘‘They used tac­tics to wear peo­ple down and force the leg­is­la­tion through with­out it be­ing able to be con­sid­ered ap­pro­pri­ately and ex­ten­sively,’’ Ms Lovell said.

‘‘While I’m happy to see some amend­ments to the bill, I think it was an ex­tremely poor way to han­dle such an im­por­tant is­sue.’’

GV Hos­pice Care ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Carmel Smith said she did not be­lieve the changes would im­pact pal­lia­tive care and the ser­vice would con­tinue to pro­vide care, no mat­ter a pa­tient’s stance.

By law, pa­tients will have to ad­min­is­ter the med­i­ca­tion them­selves and she said pal­lia­tive ser­vices would bear no in­volve­ment.

‘‘In our ser­vice in Shep­par­ton, we have up to 140 peo­ple die with us ev­ery year and I can tell you that I’ve prob­a­bly had halfa-dozen who have said their life was un­bear­able,’’ Ms Smith said.

‘‘I think it’s as safe as it can pos­si­bly be and they’ve done as much as they can that peo­ple won’t be able to abuse the ac­cess.’’

The as­sisted dy­ing plan will go to Vic­to­rian Gover­nor Linda Des­sau for royal assent.

David Ca­lan­dro

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