August Update

A Month of News 

“Restoring Territories’ Rights” 

A big thank you to everyone who wrote to their Federal Lower House MP asking them to vote to support the Bill to restore the rights of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and NT (Northern Territory) people to draft, debate and decide on their own laws - including laws relating to VAD (Voluntary Assisted Dying). On 3 August the Bill passed the lower house by 99 votes to 37.     

On 5 September it will be the turn of the Senate to debate this proposal. Of the 76 Australian Senators, 28 have already declared they are opposed. Only 38 so far are firmly in support. Dying with Dignity groups across Australia agreed that each DWD State President will contact their own state’s Senators and urge them to vote in support of the Bill. This is not just about creating a pathway for VAD laws in the Territories: it is about redressing a human rights injustice. Queensland has 12 Senators, and DWDQ will contact each of them as your representative.  

VAD and the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 

Commonwealth law prohibits the use of Telehealth, email, Facetime or any electronic means, to discuss “suicide”. This includes a health worker talking with a patient about the specifics of VAD: a tremendous disadvantage for terminally ill people in remote areas. Dr Nick Carr, a Melbourne GP and one of the first doctors in Victoria to provide VAD, is taking legal action to clarify the definition of “suicide” under this Commonwealth law. 

Each State AG (Attorney-General) has been urging a solution to this impasse for some time, and we’re pleased to say that the matter was discussed at the 12 August meeting of Federal AG Mark Dreyfus, and the State AGs. There will be an update on this issue, after their next meeting. 

Getting ready for 1 January 2023: News about VAD Implementation in QLD

Dr Liz Reymond, palliative care specialist, has been appointed as clinical lead for VAD Supports: 

  • QVAD Pharmacy service: safely dispensing and delivering the VAD substance(s). Guidelines and protocols have all been completed and endorsed.   
  • QVAD-Support: first port of call for anyone with questions about how to access VAD. They’ll support a patient (and their family, care providers and doctors) throughout the process, including referral on to accredited practitioners if needed.                      

The Q-VAD Handbook: This is the “go to” place on their website for everything you need to know about VAD as a health worker or facility – including all guidelines, protocols and forms. 

The Queensland VAD Implementation Conference for health workers will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and virtually, on 29 October 2022. The program includes a keynote address from Andrew Denton, insights from interstate, case scenarios, and an overview of VAD. Tickets for this free event ran out within 48 hours. Healthcare workers can still register online here.

DWDQ Website

We know we say this every time, please look at our great website for updates, news and resources. Coming soon on the website will be an information package written for doctors as a quick basic summary of VAD in Queensland. Please feel free to point your doctor towards this resource. . .  especially if they are new to end of life care.