End of life care: legislation for assisting the dying

End of life care: legislation for assisting the dying

A report tabled in parliament today regarding end of life care for Victorians, includes a recommendation that euthanasia (assisted dying) be legalised and that more resources be given to palliative care services, particularly in regional and rural Victoria. The report's recommendations are largely targeted at increasing the autonomy afforded to people at the end of their life, including by providing added resources to assist people to die in their preferred location. For most Victorians, this is said to be in their home. Conducted over 12 months, the inquiry heard from a number of professionals and lay witnesses, both in Australia and overseas, and travelled to jurisdictions where assisted dying is already legal. The report acknowledges what has been clear to those of us who come into contact with people experiencing end of life care for some time. The end of someone's life is a stressful time for patients, their family and their carers, and poor medical advice or treatment at the end of someone's life takes a significant physical and emotional toll. There is often a lack of clarity among health practitioners and family members alike around the legal framework applicable to end of life treatment, which can add to the emotional strain associated with a protracted death. We welcome efforts to ensure that people are well informed about end of life choices and have an opportunity to discuss their options with their doctors and loved ones with clarity as to their legal position. We hope that these recommendations, if adopted, would lessen the strain already placed on patients and their families at such a significant moment in their lives. If you or someone you know has developed a mental health injury/psychiatric illness due to stress related to end of life treatment, we invite you to make contact with one of our expert injury lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.

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