Dying with Dignity ACT Inc. has begun the year with a bang at many levels. Members have enthusiastically renewed membership and last year we slowly built the membership with new people who are finding us for the first time. We now also have a solid core of life members who provide consistent evidence of our desire to manage our own deaths with dignity.
We have two new committee members; Robert Altamore has already contributed his legal skills to advising the committee and in lobbying members of the community. Joan Post has also joined the committee. Joan’s story is now on the website and she is assisting us with administrative work and with the Seniors Expo which will be on March the 17th at Thoroughbred Park this year.
Following advice from members at our last AGM we have decided to draw on the bequest that one of our members made to us years ago to begin a small advertising campaign. We have never drawn any money out of this account before so we thought that having built it up through the small amounts of interest we have reinvested each year that it could be time to use it for a good purpose which we hope will benefit DWD ACT Inc.
Following our general meetings about Advance Directives we now have links to the forms and information about the Respecting Patient Choices program at The Canberra Hospital. Jack White, our treasurer has kindly been helping individual members with forms as well.
Our Communications Officer, Ailsa Turrell, is seeing more interest in the face book page. The committee agreed to place our new application form on the face book page to encourage interested people to become members. We will be placing an entry in the White pages next year. We hope that will help to build membership as well.
In 2014 we planned to begin writing a book but a number of factors led us to put aside that idea for the time being. Instead we began a new section on the website called ACT stories under our stories section. Four people now have their stories on the website. I encourage you to read them and write your own. The more stories we have, the better.
Seniors Week Expo will be held on Tuesday 17th of March at Thoroughbred Park. We need help with the roster so if you would like to spend a couple of hours talking to people, handing out brochures and spending time in a lively environment we would like to see you. Please respond to this email if you would like to participate. There are also a number of other opportunities that we could participate in if we had enough members who were prepared to sit at a stall and chat to people about our issue. Once again if you indicate your interest in helping by email we can get an idea of whether we have enough people to allow our participation in these activities.
Following the response from the ACT Human Rights Commissioner we have looked high and low for someone to take up our claim that the Crimes Act is incompatible with the Human Rights Act. As yet we have not found anyone to give us assistance, although I have been in discussion and email contact with a range of people here and interstate. It seems that the belief that everyone must die of disease is deeply embedded in our culture even among the law profession. The fact that over two thousand people end their own lives in horrible ways and many other terminally people die miserably each year in Australia seems to be a matter of indifference to lawyers. In fact the law is designed to make ending your life yourself to be as difficult as possible to encourage/force people into dying of disease. I believe that people who take elect their own deaths are actually useful in convincing people that ending your own life will inevitably be a dreadful experience and is helpful to the government in promoting the idea that everyone should die of disease.
My trip to Chicago in September to the World Federation Right to Die Societies’ conference was a great experience. The conference was packed full of interesting talks and experiences. The two most powerful presentations involved talks by two doctors, one Swiss and the other Columbian, both in countries where it is legal to give assistance to die. Their films showed the process they went through in counselling individuals who had decided to die and administering drugs to them. As a non-medical person I found those films very moving and helpful. Witnessing those deaths did not frighten or worry me. The only concern I had was for the doctors-whether assisting people to die felt like murdering them, but I am sure they did not feel like that because they continue to help people to die and the process was clearly like any other medical treatment such as a blood test. They used intravenous means to assist their patients to die not the use of orally taken Nembutal.
The other thing that occurred which was unexpected was that I am now a member of the WFRTDS board and participating by skype and email with other board members. It is possible that our international contacts may be as or more helpful to us as our national contacts. If there are any French speaking members I have a magazine from our French counterpart organization that might be of interest. Perhaps a summary of the French perspective would be of interest to our members.
As secretary of YourLastRight.com I am watching with interest as the various state directors seem to be coming together over a document which would form the basis of a discussion with Senator Di Natale on the Medical Services bill he raised last year. Senator di Natale is going to pursue this bill this year so that will be interesting to watch, especially to see how politicians vote on the bill.
Please ignore previous dates I have given you for meetings. For one reason or another we’ve had to make a few changes to our meeting schedule. Meetings are now finalized.
Committee meetings: May 14, July 9, September 10, December 10 at 10.30 a.m.
The AGM will be combined with our first General meeting on April 16 at 2.00 p.m.
The second General Meeting will be on October 22 at 2.00 p.m..
All meetings will be held at The Grant Cameron Community Centre in either the small or large meeting room.
I have to make an urgent call for a volunteer to be a secretary. Ian Hughes who has kindly filled this position for about four years now is going overseas this year and he cannot continue in this role. We badly need to someone to fill his reliable shoes. If there is anyone who can help we would appreciate you coming forward to give us a hand.
One other thing we intend to do this year is to begin talking to community groups after the April General Meeting. This year we don’t have an August meeting scheduled because we intend to use those winter months to get out and talk to people about Dying with Dignity, not only to encourage them to join but to explain why such a group like ours exists. Those of you who are former teachers or speakers may be interested in working with me to do this. Someone with expertise in Power Point presentations would be welcome to join us.
Dying with Dignity ACT Inc.
PO Box 55, Waramanga ACT 2611