NSW voluntary assisted dying advocates continue to push for law reform

Strong message: Supporters of the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, including Dying with Dignity NSW vice-president Shayne Higson, past president Richard Mills and president Dr Sarah Edelman, rally outside NSW Parliament on the morning of the debate.
Strong message: Supporters of the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, including Dying with Dignity NSW vice-president Shayne Higson, past president Richard Mills and president Dr Sarah Edelman, rally outside NSW Parliament on the morning of the debate.

Advocates of voluntary assisted dying hope other states will follow Victoria’s lead.

The Victorian Upper House passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill on November 22 after a marathon debate.

Only a short debate is expected when the amended Bill returns to the Lower House for a final vote.

The Victorian scheme is scheduled to start in 2019.

Dying With Dignity NSW Mid North Coast Group convener Annie Quadroy said they hoped politicians in other states would follow Victoria’s lead.

“It is just nonsensical for them not to,” she said.

“There is lots of movement and we just have to hope it all comes to fruition sometime soon.”

Ms Quadroy said a choice did not mean more death but it did mean less suffering.

“At the end of the day, we have to remember it is a choice,” she said.

Dying with Dignity NSW vice-president Shayne Higson believes it will only be a matter of time before all Australian states, and possibly the territories, have their own voluntary assisted dying laws.

She predicts Western Australia will be the next state to follow Victoria’s example.

“I think the evidence that came out of the Victorian inquiry [the Inquiry into End of Life Choices] would apply across the country,” she said.

“We can all follow Victoria’s example.”

Ms Higson said politicians in NSW should reflect their constituents’ views on the issue.

She said it was about providing a compassionate choice when suffering became intolerable at the end stage of a terminal illness.

Dying with Dignity Victoria (DWDV) has welcomed the Victorian vote.

DWDV vice-president Dr Rodney Syme said this historic Victorian vote was a magnificent win for democracy, human rights and the persistence of the community in pursuing compassionate and logical societal change. 

“It has been a sustained effort over many years by many people,” he said.

“I believe this change will move across Australia in the next few years.”

The successful Victorian vote came less than a week after the narrow defeat of the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the NSW Upper House.

The Bill failed to pass the NSW Upper House by one vote.

Ms Higson said that was disappointing to say the least.

The Bill did not get to the NSW Lower House.

It is expected a NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be reintroduced after the next election.

Ms Quadroy said she was extremely disappointed the Bill failed to pass the NSW Upper House.

So too was Dying With Dignity NSW Mid North Coast Group team member Paul Newman.

“I think there was so much misinformation brought forward,” he said.

Mr Newman believes we are much closer to achieve the reform that we have ever been.

Advocates will continue to lobby for law reform.

“We will continue to work to get legislative change, because we believe it is the right thing to do,” Ms Quadroy said.