Just after midday on Thursday 19th May 2022, after decades of campaigning, NSW became the last state in Australia to pass laws allowing terminally ill people the right to voluntarily end their own life, at a time of their choosing, when their suffering becomes intolerable.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the Lower House, after passing the Upper House with some amendments earlier that morning following a long debate that ran until midnight on the previous day. There were applause and tears in the public gallery where advocates had gathered to witness the final hurdle and an overwhelming sense of relief.
“We are all feeling an extreme mix of emotions today”, said Shayne Higson, Vice President of Dying with Dignity NSW.
“There is the relief, that we’ve finally achieved this law reform so that in the future, people with a terminal illness will not have to go through prolonged suffering in their final days of life. However, we also continue to grieve for the families and others, who have watched a loved one die with extreme suffering. For those people, this is a heavy mix of emotions,”
“And most importantly, there are the people who are terminally ill right now, and for them, this law reform will be too late. But that hasn’t stopped them from doing everything in their power to make this option a reality for others.
“And last but not least, we pay tribute to those who have sadly died died waiting for this law to pass. Too numerous to name but certainly never forgotten.”
Dying with Dignity NSW were incredibly grateful to the hard work of Alex Greenwich MP, who drafted the Bill and who coordinated its successful passage and his team – Tammie Nardone and Leanne Abbott. They thanked Greg Piper MP, supported by Jason Gordon for all their work in support of the Bill from beginning to end. They also thanked Adam Searle, MLC, who took carriage of the Bill in the Upper House and who expertly steered it through to a successful conclusion.
Ms Higson said “We are incredibly grateful to the 28 co-sponsors of the Bill and to those MPs, from across the political spectrum who have worked together to achieve this incredible milestone and delivered a safe and compassionate law to give terminally ill people in this state a choice in their last days.
“This is a Bill that has the support of over 80% of the NSW community, it has the largest number of co-sponsors in Australia’s parliamentary history, state or federal – and this morning it has passed both houses of NSW Parliament.”
(L to R) The “team” in NSW – Greg Piper, Andrew Denton, Penny Hackett, Jason Gordon, Shayne Higson, Amelia Brock, Kiki Paul, Tammie Nardone, Steve Offner, Alex Greenwich and Frankie Bennett.