HCNSW Position Statement: Voluntary Assisted Dying
Health Consumers NSW recognises that there is a diversity of opinions about the issue of voluntary assisted dying. We recognise that changes to the law are, ultimately, a matter for society and legislators.
Health Consumers NSW supports all people facing decisions about end-of-life care being able to access the type of care they want and need, including end of life and palliative care, as well as spiritual and pastoral care. We also support people’s right to be fully informed about all options available to them.
Health Consumers NSW does not take a formal position on whether voluntary assisted dying should or should not be legalised. If voluntary assisted dying is legalised, then some people will request it and such requests require a respectful and compassionate response.
End of Life and Palliative Care
Health Consumers NSW supports people at the end of life to choose the type of care they want and need.
Not being able to access end of life and palliative care should not compel people into voluntary assisted dying.
Many people in NSW already have difficulty in accessing appropriate end of life and palliative care. This is especially the case for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in rural and remote NSW, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. End of life and palliative care needs to be supported and extended throughout the whole of NSW.
Health consumers, patients, carers, and families need to be actively involved in shaping health services and policies. Should Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation be passed in NSW, health consumers and their organisations must be included as equal partners in the co-design, implementation, and governance of the program at state and local levels.
Health Consumers NSW advocates for providing patients and their families with accessible and quality information that assists them in making informed decisions that are right for them. People need to be provided with good quality information, in language that makes sense to them, about their options around end-of-life. Including access to end-of-life and palliative care, and voluntary assisted dying (should it become legal in NSW).
People should be able to make their wishes about end-of-life care known in advance and know that these wishes will be respected. This includes advanced care directives or the appointment of alternative decision-makers.
All discussions around end of life, including voluntary assisted dying, must:
- Involve patients, families and communities in the design, implementation, and monitoring of all services and programs,
- Respect patient choice,
- people’s preferred wishes at the end of life should be carried out,
- care providers should have access to and implement people’s preferences as laid out in advanced care directives, enduring guardianship, health passports, and the like,
- Ensure that people are provided with sufficient information, in language that makes sense to them, on all options when it comes to end-of-life and palliative care, and voluntary assisted dying.
- Ensure that all people in NSW have access to end-of-life and palliative care, and spiritual and pastoral care.
End of Position Statement
The Royal Australian College of General Practice Position Statement on voluntary assisted dying: https://www.racgp.org.au/advocacy/position-statements/view-all-position-statements/clinical-and-practice-management/voluntary-assisted-dying-legislation
Advanced Care Directives
- Advanced Care Planning Australia
A national program, funded by the Australian Government Department of health, that aims to provide Australians with information about the choices they can make for their future health and care: https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/palliative-care-blueprint
- Making an Advance Care Directive
Information from NSW Health about making an advance care plan in NSW: https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/palliative-care-blueprint
- My Health Record
How to add your advance care plan to My Health Record: https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/for-you-your-family/howtos/add-advance-care-plan