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Voluntary Assisted Dying Board appointed

By Claire Ottaviano

THE inaugural members of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board were appointed by the State Government on Monday.

Voluntary assisted dying will become an end-of-life option for adults suffering from severe disease or illness from July 1.

The five-member board, chaired by palliative and aged care specialist and former Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Scott Blackwell, will have a mostly advisory and monitoring role.

Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes has been a long-term advocate for the legislation and enhanced palliative care in the region and welcomed the board’s announcement.

“Of my brothers, both who spent time in palliative care, one had had enough and knew the inevitability of death and wanted not to be in a position where he wasn’t consciously aware of what was going on around him, he would have rather exited at a time of his choosing,” he said.

“Whereas the next eldest brother down would not have wanted that, he thought he should continue as long as his heart beat.

“Voluntary assisted dying legislation is important,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity for people who had really had enough and can demonstrate to their supervising doctors that really they are eligible candidates for voluntary assisted dying.

“I can’t see any reason why a compassionate society would not be able within its legislation, provided adequate safe guards were put in place, to provide an opportunity for people to end their life early if it was very clear death was inevitable.”

He said increased funding of $224 million for palliative care from 2019 to 2023 was an important step.

“The legislation is not intended as a substitute for palliative care,” he said.

“Upwards of 16,000 Western Australians die each year.

“It is anticipated that very few people will take advantage of the voluntary assisted dying legislation,” Mr Hughes said.

“The vast majority of the community will want and must have access to quality palliative care.

“It must, therefore, be resourced accordingly.”

Kalamunda Hospital received a $9.5 million enhancement through the WA Labor Government COVID-19 Recovery Plan to create a centre of excellence for palliative care to serve the East Metropolitan region.

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