DWDACT Bulletin July 2013

This Bulletin is being sent to remind you of the next General Meeting at 2.00 p.m. on August 15 at The Weston Club, Liardet St Weston. Our subject will be Completing an Advance Care Directive. I am enclosing a copy of the Advance Care Directive form so that you all have one and can complete it if you want to either for yourself in your own time or you can come to the meeting with pencil in hand and fill it out with the guidance of Joy Cocker, the co-ordinator of the Respecting Patient’s Choices Program. Joy will be leading proceedings and I will be acting as the person filling in her Advance Care Directive for the first time (That’s true. I will be a completely unsuspecting guinea pig.). As a person who has already completed an Advance Care Directive Adele Stevens will also be advising on the things that are important to consider.

Whether you have completed an Advance Care Directive or not please come along and join in what will be a participative session in which everyone is welcome to give advice.

I have some disappointing news. At the ACT Labor Party Conference on Saturday July 27th I attempted to make a change to the ALP Party Platform to influence ACT legislation on the provision of assistance to die and was unsuccessful. I will keep on trying but it is clearly going to be slow progress with influential people in the party being prepared not to pull punches to oppose changes on this matter.

On the brighter side Mary Porter MLA recently did a study tour to Europe to talk to people about how they are dealing with the issue of assisted death. Mary spoke to many people involved in implementing the processes established in Belgium, Switzerland and Holland. The Chief Minister has agreed that Mary can begin to discuss the issue in the community and I have asked Mary if she might be available to talk to us at some stage. However, even if we change attitudes in the ACT, Federal legislation still blocks the Assembly’s ability to make change to the legislation to allow assisted death. With this in mind, I attempted to make contact with Senator Richard di Natale who is behind the Restoring Territories Rights legislation in the Senate, again without success, but I hope to contact him after the election when the Federal Parliament meets again.

We have been successful in getting the Human Rights Commissioner to agree to analyse the sections in The Crimes Act relating to suicide when she has funding. I expect that means that she will get around to it eventually so we needn’t hold our breaths but I believe this is a significant break through because it directly challenges the basis on which the ACT law is written that justifies not giving assistance to people to die. If we are successful we may have made a break through that affects legislation world wide.

We are fortunate that the Voluntary Euthanasia Party has chosen Phillip Nitschke to stand in the ACT. I hope those of you who are free to join a party have joined and are actively campaigning for him. While it’s unlikely (but it is possible, as we have seen in other jurisdictions) he will succeed in ousting one of the established parties, he will nevertheless be a welcome addition to the debate and raise the profile of euthanasia in the territory.

Jeanne Arthur
President DWD ACT Inc.

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