Dying with Dignity has launched a petition to kick start a renewed campaign to achieve voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform in NSW.
This comes on the back of news that independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, in response to the growing momentum for change, will begin the process of drafting legislation and getting the issue of voluntary assisted dying back on the parliamentary agenda in New South Wales.
The petition calls on supportive MPs within the NSW Parliament to work together in a multi-partisan way on assisted dying law reform as soon as possible, so that terminally ill people in NSW can have access to the same, end of life choices as people in Victoria and Western Australia.
Dying with Dignity NSW President, Penny Hackett said the announcement brings hope for terminally ill people in NSW who may be facing prolonged and unbearable suffering at the end of their life.
“We’re so pleased to hear that Alex Greenwich MP is committed to progressing this law reform because every day that NSW Parliament ignores this issue, more terminally ill people will die badly, even with the best palliative care, and more families will be traumatised having to watch their loved ones suffer.”
Momentum for assisted dying law reform has certainly been growing. Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying law has been working safely and effectively for 18 months with 124 terminally ill Victorians choosing this compassionate, end of life option in the first year. Similar laws passed in Western Australia and New Zealand will come into effect in 2021. Tasmania’s VAD bill is expected to pass in March next year following an historic, unanimous vote in their upper house and a convincing 17 to 7 vote in the lower house at the second reading stage. South Australia introduced an assisted dying bill last week and the Queensland Government has committed to tabling their VAD bill in February or March.
“It’s time for NSW to get this done,” said Ms Hackett.
“Why can a terminally ill person nearing the end of their life in Victoria have the option to die peacefully, at a time and place of their choosing, surrounding by loved ones, but a terminally ill person in NSW is denied that choice and may be forced to experience often prolonged and sometimes extreme end of life suffering?”
“In 2021 every other Australian state, and New Zealand, will either have an assisted dying law in place or will be finalising their debates. The people of NSW should not be made to wait until the next term of Parliament for this much-needed law reform to be addressed. We welcome Alex’s announcement and ask supportive MPs in NSW to start working collaboratively on this Bill.”
The new petition features Scott Riddle, a young father diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. In a moving video Scott explains why he would like the choice of voluntary assisted dying.
“There’s a huge amount of fear associated with having a terminal diagnosis, you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Scott.
“There’s just all these unknowns and I feel like one of those unknowns shouldn’t be the risk of a really awful, extended, agonising death. It seems completely unnecessary.”
“The reason that I really want it at a personal level is because it would bring immense peace of mind.”
With overwhelming 85% public support for assisted dying laws across Australia, Dying with Dignity believe the NSW Parliament must address this issue without delay.
The last attempt to pass assisted dying laws in NSW was narrowly defeated in 2017 and public support has continued to grow.
“This issue is not going away, and the longer it takes for voluntary assisted dying law reform to take place in NSW – the more people will be forced to suffer bad deaths or take matters into their own hands, creating unnecessary trauma for all involved,” says Ms Hackett.
The Dying with Dignity NSW petition calling on supportive MPs within NSW Parliament to start working together on an assisted dying Bill in 2021 can be found here – https://dwdnsw.nationbuilder.com/petition_2020
To print a hard copy of the petition to collect signatures you can download a copy here.