On 23 August 2017, the Western Australian Parliament established a Joint Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council to inquire and report on the need for laws in Western Australia to allow citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end of life choices.
Chair of the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices, Amber‐Jade Sanderson, said the inquiry was an important opportunity for all Western Australians to have their views heard on an issue that affects everyone.
“Cross‐party select committees can achieve great outcomes by working cooperatively and I genuinely hope for that in this process. Although this issue is challenging and contentious, there are principles that we all share: respect for the rights and freedoms that our society provides us and the ability for us to hold fundamentally different views, and compassion for those who are nearing the end of their lives, particularly those suffering under a medical condition that will shorten their lives,” Ms Sanderson said.
The Committee was set up to –
(a) assess the practices currently being utilised within the medical community to assist a person to exercise their preferences for the way they want to manage their end of life when experiencing chronic and/or terminal illnesses, including the role of palliative care;
(b) review the current framework of legislation, proposed legislation and other relevant reports and materials in other Australian States and Territories and overseas jurisdictions;
(c) consider what type of legislative change may be required, including an examination of any federal laws that may impact such legislation; and
(d) examine the role of Advanced Health Directives, Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Guardianship laws and the implications for individuals covered by these instruments in any proposed legislation.
The Committee initially invited written submissions. These were followed by public hearings.
The Committee delivered its findings on Thursday August 23, paving the way for a free parliamentary vote on voluntary assisted dying which could happen before the end of 2018.
The Committee has recommended that the Minister for Health establish an expert panel including health and legal practitioners and health consumers to undertake consultation and develop legislation for voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.
The panel would provide a mechanism for the government to consult with "key stakeholders" during the drafting of the bill, Ms Sanderson said.
If a voluntary assisted dying law is passed in the Western Australia Parliament they would become the second Australian state to do so.
Victoria passed their assisted dying legislation late last year and the Victorian scheme is expected to start operating by mid-2019, open to terminally ill, competent adults who have lived in the state for at least 12 months.
DOES YOUR MP SUPPORT VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING?
At this stage in the campaign, your local MP may be unsure as to whether or not they will support a voluntary assisted dying bill, if one is introduced later this year or early next year. However, it is not too early to ask them if they support the principle of dying with dignity and assisted dying legislation as recommended by the Committee. If MPs start hearing from supporters, like you, especially if you have a personal experience to share, the more likely they are to consider this issue seriously and hopefully speak for the constituents they represent.
Personal letters to local members of Parliament
We believe the best method to persuade WA MPs to support an assisted dying bill are handwritten letters from constituents. MPs are answerable to their electorates and we must let them know how we feel on this issue. Please be sure to use a respectful tone whilst explaining the reasons why you support the assisted dying. Personal stories are very powerful.
Request a meeting with your local members of Parliament
You may also consider requesting a meeting with your local MP to discuss the issue of assisted dying and tell them your personal story.
Write to your local newspaper
Help us spread the word by contacting your local newspaper and asking them to write a story on voluntary assisted dying. You can always write letters to the editor on the issue. We know local MP's take an interest in what is reported in local newspapers, so this is another way to influence them.
Donate to DWDWA
This is the most important time in the history of DWDWA. The Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices has now recommended the introduction of assisted dying legislation and we need to build up our resources ready to campaign effectively when the VAD Bill is introduced. All donations, no matter how small, are very welcome.
To make a donation, please use one of the payment methods listed below.
- The easiest way to donate is via the Donate page on this website;
- Alternatively, you can do an electronic funds transfer to: DWDWA - BSB: 306-188, Account number: 0258370. Please include your name when depositing and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details if your require a receipt; or
- Mail a cheque to: Dying With Dignity WA (Inc), PO Box 7243, Cloisters Square, Perth WA 6850
Donations over $2 are tax deductible.