Guest speaker Lyn Allison, a DWDV ambassador and former Leader of the Australian Democrats, described the important role played by Senate committees in assessing public attitudes on social issues.

The president Lesley Vick reported that she and Dr Rodney Syme represented DWDV at a public hearing of the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Victorian Upper House. So far over one thousand submissions have been received (including HSV’s) for their Inquiry into End of Life Choices, with public hearing continuing. The report and recommendations are due by end of May 2016. As well a review of the Medical Treatment Act of 1988 is being conducted by the Minister for Health.

These are welcomed steps leading, hopefully, to legislative changes that will recognise the autonomy of the terminally ill to choose the time and seek medical help for their death.

In the federal parliament, Senator Richard Di Natale introduced a draft Bill on medical assistance for the terminally ill to end their lives. The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry into this Bill recommended that there should be a conscience vote on this issue, but no action has been taken yet.

Questions and comments at this well attended AGM reflected the optimism felt at the outcome of these inquires, given the large public support (85%) for physician-assisted dying for the terminally ill who seek such help.

Halina Strnad

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