WEB SITE OF MIKE BOESEN

Since I started this web site my interests have narrowed. My primary interest at the moment is Voluntary Assisted Dying ("VAD"). The content of my web site is now limited to matters relating to VAD.

In Australia, provisions for VAD are available currently for citizens who live in the State of Victoria. In one other State - Western Australia - legislation has been enacted that will allow citizens in that State to access provisions for VAD soon. A number of the other States are giving consideration to the possibility of enacting legislation for VAD.
Proponents in favour of VAD are hopeful that following the lead shown in those two States, other States will then enact legislation for VAD.

However,
Commonwealth legislation prevents the Australian Capital Territory ("ACT") and Northern Territory from enacting legislation for VAD. For that reason the ACT Government will need to convince the Commonwealth government that it should repeal legislation that prevents the Territories from enacting legislation for VAD. If that were to occur, the ACT Government would then need to develop legislation for access to VAD for consideration by the ACT Legislative Assembly.

It is my view and the view of many of my peers that there would be would be great value in undertaking a survey on people's views about the need for provisions for VAD and the nature of provisions that might be implemented. Such information would be useful in two contexts:

  • convincing the Commonwealth government that the ACT community recognises the need for provisions for VAD and is strongly in support of implementing such provisions ; and
     
  • evaluating alternative models for implementing VAD
Information about attitudes towards alternative model for implementing VAD would also be of interest to jurisdictions other than the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia in the process of them developing legislation for access to VAD.

In 2018 the need for a survey on views of ACT residents towards Voluntary Assisted Dying was identified in Submission 112 made to the Select Committee on End of Life Choices in the ACT in 2018. The submission was developed by myself and 11 other Senior Citizens who are residents of the ACT. One of the concerns that the group expressed to the Committee was the possibility of the very conservative and restrictive Victorian system for providing access to VAD would be used as a model for legislation in other jurisdictions.

Access to provisions for VAD in Victoria is limited to people who are
in extremis, that is, people who are in the late stages of an incurable, advanced disease that is getting worse, and which will cause death within six months (or 12 months for a neurodegenerative disease) and is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a way that is acceptable to the person. Access to VAD in Western Australia will be similarly restricted to people in extremis.

The view of the group of Senior Citizens is that while access to VAD for such people is clearly justified, there are many other people who would desire access to VAD but would be denied such access because they do not have a terminal illness or do not have only a short time to live. Specifically, these types of people will be excluded from access to provisions for VAD in Victoria and Western Australia:
  • adults who do not have a terminal illness or a short time to live, but do have a serious condition causing suffering that cannot be relieved to an extent and in a manner that is acceptable to them; and
  • adults of a very advanced age who do not have a terminal illness or a serious condition, but whose quality of life is intolerable and who wish to end their life while they have decision-making capacity

The group indicated to the Select Committee that less restrictive models for access to VAD have been implemented successfully in a number of jurisdictions outside Australia for many years and their effectiveness has been evaluated over decades of their operation. The group indicated that a Briefing Note by Prof. Penney Lewis of Kings College London provides an excellent summary of the operation of VAD systems in Europe, USA and Canada. A copy of the briefing note
is here, or available through this web page: https://tinyurl.com/s32r2ow

The group pointed out that The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland were jurisdictions that have operated much less restrictive systems with proven effectiveness. The group proposed that a survey be undertaken in the ACT to determine attitudes towards VAD and possible models for providing access. Subsequently, the group provided to the Government a draft of a questionnaire that might be used in such a survey. It was intended that such a questionnaire would enable views to be obtained about the appropriateness of criteria for access to VAD that are reflected in the Victorian model and also those that are reflected in such less restrictive models.

In 2019 the ACT Policy Advisory Group of National Seniors Australia became aware of the Group's proposal to the Select Committee on End of Life Choices in the ACT that a survey be undertaken in the ACT. The Policy Advisory Group decided that the authors of the VAD survey proposal should be assisted through an online trial of their questionnaire amongst National Seniors in the ACT. Consequently such a survey was undertaken in October/November 2019.

On
this page on my site I have provided a Summary Report on the survey. It covers background information about the involvement of the ACT Policy Advisory Group of National Seniors Australia, the survey methodology, and the major conclusions.

You may download the
Full Report on the survey from here: Download Full Survey Report


Mike Boesen

28 December 2019

If you want to contact me send me an email:
mboesen email