Queensland backs voluntary assisted dying in state first

Morgan Liotta

1/04/2020 4:09:31 PM

The State Government’s health committee has recommended passing voluntary assisted dying laws for terminally ill adults.

Younger person comforting older person.
The majority of Queenslanders support the introduction of voluntary assisted dying, helping to determine recommendations for Parliament.

The laws were first proposed in late 2018, followed by a year-long investigation to gauge public opinion on voluntary assisted dying.
The results established that most Queenslanders are in favour of the new legislation ­– making it the first time the state has ever considered voluntary assisted dying.
Current Queensland laws do not provide a legal avenue for helping terminally ill people to die.
The support for voluntary assisted dying is contained in a Queensland Parliament health committee report, tabled on 31 March.
The report details the committee’s public awareness campaign, which engaged thousands of Queenslanders to incorporate a range of activities to raise awareness of the inquiry, and to assist groups and individuals contribute their views on voluntary assisted dying.
On 14 February 2019, the committee published a paper for the inquiry outlining the issues it would consider and the process for providing a submission. The paper was distributed to hospitals, residential aged care facilities, members of Parliament and other healthcare and government stakeholders.
The bipartisan committee held 41 hearings and received 4729 submissions, with the views and experiences of submitters and more than 500 witnesses informing the findings and recommendations.
Committee Chair Aaron Harper said the proposal was given ‘extensive consideration’ and the bill was largely supported.
‘The majority of Queenslanders who engaged with the inquiry supported the introduction of voluntary assisted dying and our recommendation to the parliament reflects this,’ Mr Harper said.
Mr Harper also pointed out a number of recommended safeguards would further limit who may be able to access the scheme.
‘We believe citizens should have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying if they fit the strict eligibility criteria and if this is a choice made by them,’ he said.
‘This is now a matter for the Queensland Government to consider.’ 
Under the proposal, people aged 18 years and older would be allowed to seek an assisted death if they were diagnosed by a medical practitioner as having an advanced and progressive terminal illness, or neurodegenerative condition.
The committee recommended any assisted dying scheme should not propose a precise anticipated date of death for a person before they could access it due to ‘the complex, subjective and unpredictable nature of the prognosis of terminal illness’.
Queensland Parliament is currently suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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Dr Peter Robert Bradley   2/04/2020 10:36:25 AM

Pleased to see a measured move in this direction. It had to come. Good though that we can learn from other administration's outcomes. Especially in getting the right legislation sorted. That is, adequate safeguards, but without so many restrictions it becomes unwieldy and leaves too many out in the cold, as it were.