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ANMF calls on Liberals to honour voluntary assisted dying law

ANMF calls on Liberals to honour voluntary assisted dying law

Health Minister Jill Hennessy, voluntary assisted dying campaigner and broadcaster Andrew Denton and Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings celebrating after the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was passed.

The ANMF (Vic Branch) wants a commitment from the Liberal National Coalition that it will not dismantle Victoria’s landmark assisted dying legislation.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy voted against assisted dying legislation when it came before the Victorian Parliament on 29 November 2017. He has given no guarantee that his party would not repeal the legislation if elected on 24 November.

In a letter to the group Dying with Dignity Victoria, Mr Guy said the party had ‘no plans’ to repeal the Act but also noted that the Liberal Nationals would ‘carefully examine’ the regulatory regime surrounding the implementation of voluntary assisted dying if elected.

The ANMF supported the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act as a compassionate law that would enable people suffering with terminal and incurable illnesses the agency to choose the timing and manner of their death.

Extensive consultation and debate occurred before the laws came before Parliament, including an ANMF (Vic Branch) member forum with the expert ministerial advisory panel.

Forensic debate in the Victorian Parliament led to 36 amendments to the original Bill and a law with rigorous safeguards for the vulnerable was passed.

From 19 June 2019, Victorians at the end of life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria will be able to request access to voluntary assisted dying. Patients must be over 18, have decision-making capacity, are expected to die within six months or 12 months if they have a neurodegenerative disease, and suffering in a way that cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act allowed for an 18-month implementation period to give health services time to plan and prepare.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the passing of the Andrews Government’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act had meant Victoria was the only state in Australia with assisted dying laws, though others are now looking at the comprehensive work undertaken in Victoria, that informed the legislation.

‘This is compassionate and considered legislation offering choice to suffering, terminally ill people. It has passed the Victorian Parliament and the Liberal Party should honour its implementation.’

An implementation task force has been working for some months now on all aspects of what is required to implement the voluntary assisted dying scheme, which will be overseen by a review board. Consultation has and continues to occur with all relevant stakeholders.

The board will be responsible for monitoring and reporting on all activity under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act to ensure compliance with the law. The board will also monitor permit applications for the voluntary assisted dying substance.

Authorised by Lisa Fitzpatrick, Secretary, ANMF (Vic Branch), 535 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.