DWDACT Bulletin – October 2012

DWDACT Bulletin – October 2012

This final bulletin rounds up the events of the year. We look forward to a great deal of political activity in the new year. Have a happy December and best wishes for the new year from Dying with Dignity ACT Inc.




The committee has ongoing contact with other organizations such as Health Care Consumers Association, DWD NSW and YLR as well as parliamentarians both Federal and local.


We incorporated earlier this year. John Brook is to be congratulated on his singlehanded achievement in this area. We could not have done it without him.


Andrew Leigh MP. met with Jeanne Arthur, John and Adele Stevens in June this year. He posed the question why politicians would be more inclined to accept a more ‘libertarian’ approach i.e. an elective death, to the issue of assisted dying. Jeanne wrote a long letter in reply to his question as well as providing him with an analysis of the various legislative responses to assisted dying. The letter can be made available to anyone who is interested.


The ACT Human Rights Office advised Jeanne to write to the Attorney General expressing our concerns about the sections of the Crimes Act 1900 relating to suicide. The committee discussed the issue of reliance on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for providing substance to an argument on human rights. They agreed that the law did need to be changed and that Jeanne should go ahead and write a letter. Basing her arguments on the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 Jeanne wrote a letter requesting the Attorney General to refer sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Crimes Act 1900 to the Law Reform Advisory Council. He subsequently refused. The committee agreed that Jeanne should send a letter in reply to the ACT Attorney General to let him know how we feel about his response. That has been sent to him along with copies to the Chief Minister, The ACT Human Rights Commissioner, Helen Watchirs and Mary Durkin the ACT Health Commissioner,


The ALP Legal and Admin Reform Policy Committee has approved the Elective Death policy and is referring the policy to the ACT ALP Branch Council for further discussion. Members of the committee were sorry about the rejection of DWD ACT Inc.’s letter to the Attorney General asking for him to refer the Crimes Act sections on suicide to the Law Reform Advisory Council to analyze them for their compatibility with the ACT Human Rights Act 2004. At the next Branch Council meeting the Policy Committee will ask ACT ALP Branch Council to ask the Attorney General to reconsider his position.


Jeanne attended the World Federation Right to Die Societies Congress in Zurich. She gave a talk to the committee and to the members at a General Meeting on the conference. Members wanting to check out the Federation and Dignitas should look at the following websites.



It’s well worth the trip to attend the conference.


The President, Jeanne Arthur, used the Australian Bureau of Statistics Data to support the idea of an elective death and gave a talk on her attendance at the international Federation of Right-to-Die Societies held in Zurich, Switzerland. She provided members with a number of explanatory sheets and a list of informative web sites that members could access. She pointed out that one of the leading causes of death in current society is suicide. Although hanging is no longer used as a punishment under the law it is still a major preferred way of committing suicide which is forced on any individual wanting to die at a time of their choice by laws that refuse assistance to die.


Clive Monty and Jeanne met with Lance Williamson who is going to build our website. He has currently put up a website but it is yet to be finished. Lance is completing the work on it now. The deadline for completion of the website is December 31, 2012. Other items that need attention are the logo, the membership form and a Facebook presence.


The committee accepted Clive Monty’s resignation and thanks him for his ongoing contribution to the society over many years. We have decided to rotate the role of minutes’ secretary for the time being but we would be very happy to accept any offers of support in this area.


Given the response of the Attorney General to our request for a referral to the LRAC it seems we have no choice but to lobby Federal Labor MPs. We will therefore begin by writing to Nicola Roxon, Tanya Plibersek and Mark Butler to ask for a meeting with each of them. Anyone who has experience in lobbying or an interest in coming with us to meet these politicians is very welcome to get involved in this activity. The more help the better.


The AGM was held on Thursday 15 of November. The Club provided afternoon tea for us and we invited members to join us for a drink in the bar after the meeting. Jane Allen, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia ACT spoke to us outlining the nature of the horrible disease dementia is and how badly it will affect Australians in the future.


The membership form for joining DWD ACT Inc. will be available shortly so if you intend to join DWD ACT Inc. please ignore the membership form DWD NSW sends you. It will be available on the website which will be up and running by the end of the year and we will send a copy out in the mail as soon as possible.

            We hope you will join us. The advantage of joining DWD ACT Inc. is that we are dealing directly with the Legislative Assembly and local Federal MPs. We know what the issues are in the ACT and have a unique approach to dying with dignity which we believe will be more productive in making legislative change than other approaches.

            Next year we will be making approaches to Federal and local MPs and working through our contacts in the local parties. As well we will be holding our usual program of three general meetings to which everyone is invited.


The next meeting will be at 11.00 a.m.December 13th, The Weston Club, 1 Liardet St, Weston. We have a mix of old and new committee members which means that we’ll have experience and a refresher of committee ideas and values. Even if you are not a committee member you are welcome to observe.

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