Bulletin 8 No.1 – January 2016

Dying with Dignity groups may have seemed to have been operating quietly in 2015 but activities have been occurring everywhere. The most promising for Australia is the Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into End of Life Affairs in Victoria. This enquiry has turned out to be one of the most significant in Australia’s history in relation to how people die. In addition to receiving written submissions from Victorians and others including us, the committee has gone to towns around Victoria asking Victorian citizens to tell them their stories.

This means that the Enquiry should have the most informed basis on which to make their recommendations to the Victorian Parliament this year. It is to be hoped that Victorian politicians will be forced to come up with some legislation that will deal with the facts of dying rather than its glamorized myths.

In 2015 in the light of the decision by the Supreme Court in Canada we looked for a lawyer and a litigant to attempt the same thing here in the ACT. I eventually found a lawyer in Bernard Collaery but we are still looking for a litigant. I asked members and friends if they knew of anyone and one member asked a number of nurses she knew in the Oncology Department at the Canberra Hospital but we were not successful. People do look at our website so the final strategy for 2015 was to put an advertisement for a litigant on the web page.

One small act of political defiance was to put a condolence notice in The Canberra Times for one of our longstanding members, Mildred McCloud. The notice expressed our respect for Mildred’s decision to withdraw treatment and our regret that she was unable to ask for an elective death at the time of her choice. We plan to do this for our members in future unless you tell us you don’t want us to do it. Many people read the funeral notices so it’s a small way of letting people know that Dying with Dignity ACT exists and that we care about our members and the circumstances in which they have died.

I gave a speech about the need for legislative reform of the Crimes Act at the ACT Labor Party Conference in August. Very few people attended but those people who did and a few others that I am making contact with are interested in the issue.

I sent the speech with a letter to the Chief Minister and eventually got a reply. Once again the reply I received passed the buck to us to talk to the Federal Parliament. I personally believe that as our political representatives it is the Assembly’s responsibility to do that for us; however we do have a reason to do this because Senator Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats has lodged a bill in the Senate to repeal the Andrews Act. If successful this would free the ACT Assembly to reform the Crimes Act and make laws that would enable assistance to die.

The committee has agreed that in 2016 we will write letters of support for this bill to the Senate and continue to follow it as far as it goes. We now have email addresses for federal parliamentarians, and we are proposing to draft a number of email letters to the Senators from other states and Territories, pointing out that their vote on the Leyonhjelm bill directly affects people in the ACT.

We would like to send a separate email to Senators on behalf of each of our members, and in the coming weeks we will write to you explaining what we propose to do and seeking your permission to do so.

Other actions we can take are to see Federal politicians who have shown interest in the issue of euthanasia such as Tanya Plibersek and Chris Bowen.

I will be going to the World Federation Right to Die Conference in May this year and I will be giving a short speech. I am secretary of YourLastRight.com so I can continue to inform you about what’s happening interstate and internationally.

I hope you will continue your membership and if you can help with a donation that would be appreciated. Among other promotional activities donations will go to publishing a small pamphlet arguing for an elective death.

Last year we also printed a poster with a tag that can be taken away that can be put up in shopping centres. If any of you are interested in putting one up in your local area please let us know. We still have plenty. Those put up so far seem to have attracted interest.

We have considered the matter of who to invite to speak to us this year at the AGM and the General meeting and will be investigating the availability of potential speakers. If you have any suggestions for a speaker please let us know.

 

A reminder about future meetings for this year

Event 2016
Committee meeting Thu, 28 Jan 2016
Annual General Meeting Thu, 14 Apr 2016
Committee meeting Thu, 12 May 2016
Committee meeting Thu, 7 Jul 2016
Committee meeting Thu, 8 Sep 2016
General Meeting Thu, 20 Oct 2016
Committee meeting Thu, 8 Dec 2016

All meetings will be held in the Grant Cameron Community Centre 27, Mulley St Holder but please note that we are investigating an alternative venue in Belconnen for the October General meeting.

Jeanne Arthur
President
Dying with Dignity ACT Inc
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