Voluntary Assisted Dying may be recommended to Queensland Parliament in March 2020

An inquiry into End-of-Life Care will report their recommendations on Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) to Queensland Parliament in March, and parliamentary debate may follow. 2020 will be a big year for VAD in Queensland, but how did we get here?

June 2017 – Raising awareness of Dying With Dignity Qld in regional areas of Qld

President Sharon Tregoning and a DWDQ committee member travelled the coast of Queensland, hosting information sessions in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg that were attended by hundreds of people.  We gained 11 new members at these regional centres, and joining forms continued to trickle into our PO box for weeks after the event.

We also met the State MPs of these areas, including three who are now publicly supportive of our cause. They are Scott Stewart in Townsville, Jim Pearce in Mirani and Leanne Donaldson in Bundaberg, taking the total of publicly supportive Queensland MPs to 14 of the current 89 MPs.

We absolutely believe that there was great benefit in conducting these information sessions in terms of raising awareness and connecting with existing members and people new to our organisation.

Attendees at one of the regional information sessions

25 June 2018 – Forum at Parliament House

The forum was organised by Dying With Dignity Queensland and the Clem Jones Group as part of an escalating campaign to have a VAD laws introduced in Queensland. It was attended by 180 members and supporters of VAD (Voluntary Assisted Dying) who came from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and from Bundaberg. All  Qld State MPs were personally invited and were offered the opportunity to speak.

Voluntary assisted dying — the ability to choose to have a good death, not a bad one — is one of the most important social issues of our time. It is an issue of tremendous community concern, and that concern will only grow until law reforms are enacted.

Some of the 180 forum attendees

Presenters at the Forum were:

  • MC: Peter Johnstone, CEO of the Clem Jones Group
  • Speaker of the Queensland parliament the Hon. Curtis Pitt MP who officially opened the forum
  • David Muir, chair of the Clem Jones Trust
  • Jos Hall, president of Dying With Dignity Queensland
  • Holly Warland, a personal story — via video message
  • Everald Compton, Uniting Church Elder and Dying With Dignity Queensland campaign member.
  • Marshall Perron, former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory
  • Rachel Greenslade, Creevey Russell Lawyers
  • Dr Sid Finnigan, QLD Convenor of Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice
  • Andrew Denton, Go Gentle — via video message

A question and answer session followed the speakers

2nd September 2018   – The Queensland Premier announced an Inquiry into End-of-Life Care

The Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ordered an Inquiry into End-of-Life Care. She said “the Parliamentary Health Committee will begin examining all issues into what is known as End-of-Life Care. That includes aged care, palliative care and Dying With Dignity.”

The Premier also said “I have watched carefully as other jurisdictions have faced this issue. I have personally listened to those who have watched their loved ones suffer. . . and I too have watched my own family suffer. This is an issue we must discuss. This is an issue we must confront.”

The Premier announcing the Inquiry 
at the ALP State Conference

14 November 2018 – The QLD Legislative Assembly referred an inquiry to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee

Acting on the orders for an inquiry into End-of-Life Care, the QLD Legislative Assembly referred duties to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee. Terms of reference were:

  1. That the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee inquire into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and report to the Legislative Assembly on:
  • the delivery of aged care, end-of-life and palliative care in Queensland across the health and ageing service systems; and
  • Queensland community and relevant health practitioners’ views on the desirability of supporting voluntary assisted dying, including provisions for it being legislated in Queensland and any necessary safeguards to protect vulnerable persons.

2. That in undertaking the inquiry, the committee should consider:

  • in relation to aged care, the terms of reference and submissions made to the Australian Government’s Royal Commission into the Quality and Safety of Aged Care and, in recognising the Commission will occur in parallel, how to proactively work with the Commission to ensure an appropriate exchange of information to inform the conduct of the inquiry;
  • outcomes of recent reviews and work including Queensland Health’s Palliative Care Services Review; and
  • the current legal framework, relevant reports and materials in other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions, including the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into end-of-life choices, Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) and implementation of the associated reforms.

https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/HCDSDFVPC/inquiries/current-inquiries/AgedCareEOLPC

The early stages of the inquiry canvassed opinions through public submissions from Queensland residents, professionals, medical bodies and lobbyist groups. Submissions were made via the Queensland Parliament website, email or post, with over 5,000 submissions being received prior to the closing date of 15 April 2019. Most submissions were supportive of VAD, and many recounted harrowing personal stories. You can read the submissions below:  https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/HCDSDFVPC/inquiries/current-inquiries/AgedCareEOLPC

5 April 2019 – 30 October 2019 – Public Hearings conducted

As part of the inquiry into End-of-Life care, public hearings were conducted to consult people in urban and regional Queensland. These were held in Brisbane, Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Cairns, Mossman, Townsville, Palm Island, Mount Isa, Longreach, Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Ipswich, The Gold Coast, Mackay and Gladstone.  The public hearings were widely advertised and directly heard from many Queenslanders, including DWDQ members and supporters across the state. Following the completion of public hearings, the Queensland Inquiry Committee began focusing on the production of a report to be recommended to Queensland Parliament in March 2020. Read more about the public hearings below: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/HCDSDFVPC/inquiries/current-inquiries/AgedCareEOLPC

DWDQ Committee, Clem Jones Group and Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice at a Brisbane Hearing