ACT inquiry lays out end-of-life safeguards

 The committee recommended the ACT Government assess the demand for palliative care (Bigstock)

The ACT's end-of-life choices inquiry made no explicit recommendation to introduce voluntary euthanasia, in recognition that the territory has no legal power to enact a scheme. Source: Canberra Times.

However, the parliamentary committee laid out safeguards for voluntary euthanasia in the ACT, should federal laws be changed to allow territories to legalise it in future.

The inquiry – which received 488 submissions, held 10 hearings and listened to 87 witnesses over the past 16 months – was tasked with looking at the options currently available to dying Canberrans and to consider what an assisted dying scheme in the ACT would look like.

It was convened in November 2017 amid a push in federal parliament to revoke the Andrews Bill, which prevents the ACT and Northern Territory from making laws about euthanasia.

But the inquiry also heard of shortages in palliative care staffing in Canberra Hospital, "bed block" in Clare Holland House – which offers specialist palliative care services – and horror stories of people dying unnecessarily traumatic deaths.

As a result, the committee has recommended the territory government assess the demand for palliative care in the ACT, look at extending funding for in-home palliative care, and further consider whether a dedicated palliative care ward at the Canberra Hospital is required.

The committee also recommended the government carry out an independent investigation of Clare Holland House’s capacity to meet future demand for palliative care services.

And while the inquiry made no formal recommendations about euthanasia, a majority of the committee agreed that if the situation changed, safeguards needed to be in place including that participants be aged at least 18 years.

Palliative care funding would also need to be increased if voluntary euthanasia was introduced.

Committee chair Bec Cody said ultimately the committee could not make any formal recommendation on euthanasia until the federal restriction was lifted.


End-of-life inquiry lays out safeguards for voluntary euthanasia (Canberra Times

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