In March 2020, the Queensland Parliament's Health Committee reported its findings after an inquiry into end-of-life care and voluntary assisted dying. Draft legislation has since been referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission for consideration. Eileen Jones, a past board member of various hospital and health services organisations in Queensland, provided a submission to the Parliament's inquiry. She has kindly offered the text of her submission to be reproduced on the TJ Ryan Foundation website, a copy of which is linked below.
'Having been the carer for a very ill husband for 11 years before his death and having myself experienced a life-threatening cerebral haemorrhage, questions about quality at the end of life have salience. Many friends have lost parents and spouses leading to frequent discussions about how we have witnessed immense suffering and would like better options to be available for the management of the end of life. Experience suggests the majority of people in the decade of their 70s wish to have access to voluntary assisted dying legislation as a reassurance that the end stage of life can be lived with dignity and without intense suffering.
'... the [Queensland] government announced it would not put draft legislation before the Parliament before the election scheduled for 31 October 2020. On 21 May 2020, it referred the matter of reviewing legislative options to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) with a reporting date of 31 March 2021. Accordingly, this project sought to elaborate the views of a small sample of Queenslanders who had relevant experience and had considered the issues at some depth. A summary of these views and preferences forms the basis of this document and a submission to the QLRC.'
Queensland MPs vote to legalise voluntary assisted dying
Ben Smee reports in The Guardian (16.9.21) on the passing of voluntary assisted dying laws through Queensland's parliament after three days of emotional debate and a conscience vote to decide the legislation.
'Queensland has passed laws that will allow voluntary assisted dying for people with a terminal illness, with an overwhelming majority of MPs voting in favour. The state - often perceived as Australia’s most socially conservative - becomes the fifth Australian jurisdiction to allow voluntary euthanasia.
'The state parliament voted 60 to 29 in favour, despite a fierce campaign by faith-based groups and attempts by opponents to introduce amendments that would have imposed barriers to access the new scheme.
'Voluntary assisted dying (VAD) will be restricted to people with an advanced and progressive condition that causes intolerable suffering and was expected to cause death within a year.
'The person must have decision-making capacity and will have to be separately and independently assessed by two doctors. They will then be required to make three separate requests over at least nine days.
'The laws also allow doctors and healthcare providers to conscientiously object. Faith-based organisations that run hospitals and aged care homes had argued for stronger rights to object, which would have acted to prevent some residents from accessing VAD.
'In the end - after 55 separate amendments were debated and rejected - the laws passed as drafted by the state’s independent law reform commission.'