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Politicians have heard the quiet voices of dying Victorians

Victorians with a terminal illness are closer to having more choice and greater control over the last days and hours of their own lives following today’s passing of voluntary assisted dying laws.

After lengthy debate in State Parliament, resulting in thirty six amendments to the original Bill, the legislation passed both houses on 28 November.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has had a policy supporting voluntary assisted dying since 1995 and believes the law is a safe and compassionate response to the quieter voices of dying Victorians.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘It takes courage for politicians to change their minds, to listen to those who are not well enough to organise campaigns or protest in the streets and to respond with such empathy.

‘We have enormous respect for Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews for the intelligent and comprehensive consultation process that laid the foundations for passing this important law.

‘Under this law terminally ill Victorians, who make a voluntary assisted dying request, will have more access to palliative care options and further specialist review of their illness or condition and their choice will be covered by a safe legal framework. Importantly people will talk more to their doctors about the dying process,’ she said.

‘This has been a difficult ethical debate and while majority of our members support terminally ill Victorian’s right to choose voluntary assisted dying those who don’t will be able to conscientiously object to any involvement.

‘We look forward to making a contribution towards the work required over the next 18 months to prepare for the introduction of this legislation.

‘ANMF also welcomes the Andrews Government’s $62 million additional funding to strengthen palliative care services particularly in regional and rural Victoria,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

ANMF also continues to push for increased palliative care staffing levels through the Andrews Government ratios improvement taskforce process. ANMF is seeking an additional nurse on the afternoon shift and two additional nurses on night shift. The taskforce recommendations to Minister Hennessy are expected by the end of the year.

‘It’s not an either/or scenario, Victoria needs a strong hospital and community palliative care nursing service and a robust, safe and a compassionate voluntary assisted dying choice if you meet tight criteria,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.