It may be too late for Jen, but she is pleased that other Victorians will have the comfort of this law

Jen Barnes is a Victorian nurse of 40 years, who has terminal brain cancer, and has just been told that the tumour has started to grow again. Jen and her husband Ken, like the vast majority of Australians, want a voluntary assisted dying law. Jen and Ken Barnes were in the Victorian Lower House when the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed on 29 November, 2017. Jen is very happy that people like her will have the comfort of knowing that the choice to end their life with assistance is there if they want it, when the right time comes for them. Sadly, as the new law will take 18 months to be implemented, this law is unlikely to help Jen Barnes. She explains “I am not likely to be here in 18 months time.” Nevertheless, she says “…it [the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying law] is only going to affect a small number of people, but for those people, I think it is important that it is there.”

Click for ABC 7.30 Report (6.13 mins) about Jen Barnes and the passing of the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill ‘ Victoria becomes first Australian state to pass assisted dying laws

Jen and Ken Barnes spoke out previously in short videos made by Go Gentle Australia and initiated a petition to the members of the Victorian Parliament. Jen has said:I’ve seen a lot of deaths and some of them have been far from ideal.  Now I have a terminal illness. It’s an aggressive form of brain cancer and I know that it can lead to a very undignified death. I may be lucky and I may just drift into a slumber. But I may suffer with seizures. I could certainly potentially be confused or have my words so jumbled that I make no sense. I don’t want to die. No-one wants to die. Because we all want to see the next grandchild, the next birthday, the trees bloom or whatever – we all want that. But I know that at some point in time they’re not going to be able to help me and they’ll say, ‘No, we can’t operate, we can’t give you treatments anymore, and this is the beginning of the end’. Palliative care is very good but I know that it doesn’t work for everybody. If it comes to it, I will want another option. It’s very important to me to have control of my destiny.

Jen’s husband, Ken Barnes, also made a video to send a message to the Victorian Parliament:


On 14 June 2017, Jen Barnes spoke to Neil Mitchell on radio 3AW – click to listen to the podcast (12.24 mins)