Catholic Health Australia’s concerns over the Voluntary Assisted Dying bill now before the NSW Parliament have been echoed by leaders from both sides of politics.
CHA fears the Bill will place the most vulnerable in society – the aged and infirm, as well as those with a mental illness or disability – at great risk of being hastened to an early death.
Nicole Clements, CHA’s Acting Director of Strategy & Mission, said: “We welcome the contributions of the Premier and the Opposition Leader who have recognised there is no need for a voluntary assisted dying scheme where good palliative care is able to provide compassionate end-of-life care.
“But due to a lack of funding, accessing palliative care depends on your postcode, meaning most rural and remote residents in NSW missing out.
“We applaud our state leaders who also recognise that that the Bill’s so-called ‘safeguards’ are a mirage – they offer little to no protection for those most vulnerable in our society.”
CHA has consistently called on the NSW Government to instead boost funding for the palliative care sector, to provide people with genuine choice in their end-of-life care.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, who opened debate into the Bill last week and who opposes it, conceded his government had failed to adequately fund palliative care, promising to fix the system rather than allow voluntary assisted dying.
“Let me be clear, I failed in my former capacity as Treasurer to address this issue. As Premier, I will fix it,” Mr Perrottet said.
CHA’s Nicole Clements says that if the Bill becomes law there’s a very real risk that the elderly and infirm, the depressed, those suffering from dementia or those who simply feel a burden to others, will be encouraged to opt for an early death.
NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns echoed CHA’s fears, telling Parliament he could not support the Bill because it “cannot protect against the conduct of people with bad intentions”.
“I am not convinced any legislation can prevent an individual choosing to die in response to pressure, collusion or duress,” Mr Minns said.
Catholic Health Australia is the largest non-government provider grouping of health, community and aged care services in Australia. CHA opposes the Bill in any form.
With thanks to Catholic Health Australia.