DWDQ October Update 2023

First Australian and New Zealand VAD Conference

Health practitioners, policy makers, VAD advocacy groups and others from all over Australia and New Zealand came together at a conference in Sydney on 27 and 28 September.  

Sheila Sim (DWDQ President) and Jos Hall (DWDQ Secretary) represented DWDQ. We are very grateful that we got this opportunity to meet the people from the other States face to face. We came back buzzing with new ideas and contacts.  

Queensland: First VAD Report

In September the Queensland VAD Review Board released its first annual report. The Board is the body appointed by QLD Health to oversee and monitor VAD in Queensland.   

The Report covers the period 1 January to 30 June 2023. 591 Queenslanders applied to begin the VAD process. Of these, so far, 245 people had chosen to use VAD to end their suffering at the end of life. 

Half of all the applicants lived in South East Queensland, and half in regional areas. The majority of them were aged over 60 and had a diagnosis of terminal cancer.  

The Review Board acknowledged the work of all the healthcare staff involved. They had some key recommendations – including

  • Building sustainability of services and funding
  • A resolution between the States and the Commonwealth that allows the use of telehealth for some patient consults
  • A review of the Medical Benefits Scheme to include VAD-related item numbers and proper remuneration for consults

If you’d like to know more, you can read the Report on the Queensland News page of our website OR by clicking here.

Dementia and VAD

Every time we give a public information session on voluntary assisted dying, the most frequently asked question is – but what if I get dementia? Can I state my wishes now, while I am lucid, and have this as a binding instruction for a time when I’ve lost capacity? 

Unfortunately, at the present, the answer is “No”. 

At the Sydney conference, VAD advocacy groups from Australia and NZ agreed to establish a national working group on dementia – an idea we’ve been discussing at our National VAD zoom meetings this year. We’re pleased to report we now have a working group, chaired by Steve Walker, President of DWD W.A.

DWDQ Committee member Cynthia Workman from Bundaberg, is our Queensland rep.

We’ll keep you posted on progress!

DWDQ is all set for another year

DWDQ held our AGM in Toowong Library on 6 October 2023. Thank you to everyone who attended in person or by zoom. The previous committee was returned with no changes. 

It was a great pleasure to welcome Lesley McLeod, Assistant Director of Nursing for the State-wide QVAD Support and Pharmacy Service as our guest speaker. 

Lesley gave us a lively, insightful picture of her team as they set up and started work in the new VAD service, meeting people in their own homes and supporting them through this new process.

It was great to talk to members over coffee after the formal proceedings.

We are now looking forward to a year of activity, progress, and many public information sessions about VAD! 

If you would like to help organise a VAD public information session close to where you live next year, please reply to this update and let us know.  

Dying with Dignity Queensland

([email protected])

If you’d like to talk to some-one, phone 1300 733 818

Thank you,

Sheila Sim

DWDQ President