Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill gains momentum

1st February 2021

Source: Newcastle Weekly | By: Rod Thompson | Posted: February 1, 2021

Organisers behind the Newcastle Dying with Dignity campaign at the weekend were thrilled with the level of support throughout the region.

The local blitz, organised by Hunter community champions, came to fruition as Alex Greenwich MP drafts a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to introduce into NSW Parliament this year.

The Newcastle branch hosted stalls across the area on Saturday 30 January, with the backing of state members Sonia Hornery (Wallsend MP), Jodie Harrison (Charlestown MP), Tim Crakanthorp (Newcastle MP) and Greg Piper (Lake Macquarie MP).

Each of the politicians are keen to work together on the Bill.

“I attended Wallsend Village; and there was a huge turnout to talk and sign the petition in favour of voluntary assisted dying,” Ms Hornery said.

“Even my mum Roma joined us.

“It was a great morning chatting with everyone.

“Dying with Dignity is an advocacy organisation pursuing a change in the law that will enhance choice at the end of life.

“They are seeking legislation that enables competent adults, experiencing unreliable suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, to receive medical assistance to end their life peacefully at a time of their choosing here in NSW.

“Thank you to those who came down.”

Newcastle resident Abbey Egan was one of the key organisers, lining up stalls at shopping centres at Mount Hutton, Charlestown, Newcastle West, Wallsend, Morisset and East Maitland.

She lost her partner Jayde to a prolonged and unnecessarily traumatic death from cervical cancer in 2018 and is now heading the grassroots movement in her hometown – and nearby electorates.

“I want to make sure that part of Jayde’s legacy is that other people won’t have to suffer horrendously at the end of their life like Jayde did,” Abbey said.

“The only thing Jayde wanted at the end of her life was the right to a peaceful, dignified death surrounded by her loved ones.

“And, because we don’t have the laws in place in NSW, she was denied that.

“It’s time to get this done once and for all.

“We’re asking members of NSW Parliament to start working together on this Bill so that it can pass.

“This is not about choosing life or death; it’s about choosing between a good death or a bad one.”

Dying with Dignity NSW president Penny Hackett echoed Abbey’s sentiments.

“Newcastle is an area where we are already seeing incredible momentum in support of voluntary assisted dying laws,” she said.

“There are more than 3,500 campaign supporters across Newcastle already.

“And, that figure is rapidly growing.

“This issue is not going away.

“The longer it takes for voluntary assisted dying law reform to take place in NSW, the more people will be forced to suffer bad deaths or take matters into their own hands.

“That, in turn, creates unnecessary trauma for all involved.

“The community overwhelmingly wants voluntary assisted dying laws in place in NSW.

“Laws are in place in Victoria, about to come into effect in Western Australia, and are on their way in Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia.

“The question is ‘why not NSW?’

“We’re asking supportive MPs in NSW to start working collaboratively on this Bill.”

 The Dying with Dignity NSW petition, launched in December 2020, boasts more than 15,000 signatures.

It can be found at www.dwdnsw.org.au/petition

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