I am a single 32-year-old man who recently lost my Grandmother after she had lived in our family home for over five years. We are a close-knit family of European descent with a strong Catholic heritage and faith, my grandmother had been a strong matriarch in the family.

After a fall, she lost much of her independence and increasingly had to rely on us over the last few years of her life. This was a challenge for all of us, though especially for her as she struggled with the humiliation of depending on others. Despite the challenges, it was a time that my family and I will cherish for the rest of our lives, as we all became closer to each other, and grew personally in many ways.

I know that she had always been against the idea of euthanasia in any way. Watching my grandmother go through occasions of great depression and distress, feeling so unloved and such a burden on us, made me see how someone in this situation could easily feel pressured to opt for voluntary assisted suicide if it were legal. This was never a consideration for us because we value life. When she suffered from these bouts of depression, although it was very difficult, we worked hard to convince her that we wanted her with us. As she slowly began to realise that we did love and cherish her, she would pass through the darker days to again become a joyful presence in the family home.

If the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 were passed, making Euthanasia legal, my grave fear is that she (and others) would have more reason to believe that they weren’t really wanted. I also fear that these vulnerable people, without consulting family and friends, may seek out a doctor euthanise them just to ‘relieve our burden’.

Our Grandmother, this year, had a natural death. Though sad for us, it was a beautiful time because she was surrounded by a loving family. I can only imagine the grief and guilt we would all be struggling with now if euthanasia had been an option.

*Person’s real name has not been used as they wish to remain anonymous.

*Paul, Hobart, TAS

I am a Tasmanian-born man. I have lived in Tasmania all my life. I now reside in Hobart.

I am very concerned about the negative effects of legalised euthanasia in our State.

When my mother was widowed, she came to live with my wife and me and our children. She lived with us for more than 20 years. In her old age my mother naturally became more frail and was gradually incapacitated by loss of eyesight, hearing and mobility.

One of the great challenges she faced during her later years was to accept that she was loved for who she was and not for what she could do for others. In her long life she had been very active as a wife and mother of five and as a teacher. During her time living with us she enjoyed helping our family in many ways – coaching and minding our children, doing some cooking for us and such things. As she got older, she was able to do less and less. My wife and I and our children put a lot of effort into telling her and showing her that she was loved and cherished as part of our family even when she could no longer help in these ways, and that we loved to help her then as she had so often helped us in earlier times.

I think any legalised euthanasia (which is state sanctioned suicide) would discourage many old people in the situation that my mother was at the end of her life, to think that they were useless and were a burden on others and so should end their lives by killing themselves. Not only would this attitude devalue the lives of older people, it would rob younger people of the joy of loving and helping those that were no longer as capable as they had once been and who now needed more day to day assistance.

Instead of encouraging suicide, I believe very strongly that our law-makers should be looking at assisting and enabling those who care for the elderly and the provision of good palliative care for all those who are terminally ill.

Brian, Hobart, TAS

My name is Richard Lawler. I have had personal experience as a carer for my wife, Patricia, for a period of about 10 years at our home in Hobart. She suffered from Parkinson’s disease for 20 years, as well as lung cancer, and a serious colon condition called Clostridium difficile. In the last 12 months of her life, Patricia required fulltime intensive carers, including myself, to feed, move, and bathe her. In the last six months, she lost the capacity to make serious life decisions for herself. My daughter and I made these decisions for her and for her day-to-day care.

Legalising assisted dying (suicide) was never a consideration as we both valued life and believe in a natural death. We were married for 60 years and Patricia had wonderful palliative care from her doctors and she never wanted any assistance to hasten her death. We both had and have a firm belief in letting our passing be natural and not accept euthanasia or assisted suicide.

After experiencing palliative care for Patricia, and having discussions with friends who were in a similar situation with their loved ones, it is clear that there is a need for more funding assistance for palliative care. It is particularly apparent in country areas like the east coast of Tasmania.

Elderly people, faced with serious illness, can become overwhelmed with navigating the health services available to them. Their ability to think clearly is often compromised as the aging process occurs. For this reason, it is all the more important that the elderly are not faced with the prospect of health professionals proposing euthanasia as a possibility. The elderly are vulnerable and must be protected and cared for. They deserve to be able to trust that their healthcare providers have the very best intentions for them at all times and not be proposing euthanasia, which they would never contemplate themselves.

I am certainly opposed to the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020. My hope is that parliament rejects the bill, and more focus is put towards increased funding for palliative care, and the training of healthcare professionals in palliative care, especially in country areas.

Richard Lawler, Sandy Bay, TAS

My husband and I moved to Tasmania in 1962 with four children. We settled in Hobart where we raised our young family, plus two Tasmanians. We loved living in Tasmania because the local people were so supportive and friendly towards us. We loved to bushwalk and frequently took advantage of local nature reserves to teach our children how to camp and explore the mountains.

My husband was diagnosed with lymphoma 18 months before he passed away. After the diagnosis we took a trip to Europe to meet friends, many of whom had visited us in Tasmania. We decided to make the most of the time that we have left together. My husband bravely took the diagnosis in his stride and wasn’t ready to become dependent upon anybody. He believed he had had a good life and that death was inevitable for all of us.

After returning to Hobart, my husband’s condition deteriorated to the extent that he was admitted to palliative care. When he was really sick he never complained. At times he believed that the pain medication administered to him was excessive. Before the end he was very concerned that I was in safe hands and would be cared for after his death. He died very peacefully, just slipping away, surrounded by his family whilst in palliative care.

The End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 concerns me because I don’t approve of us ending our lives prematurely. A natural death is what we should desire and plan for. I don’t feel it is right to make someone else responsible for killing a person through ‘assisted dying.’ Healthcare professionals should always have their patient’s wellbeing at heart and this does not include euthanasia.

I have great admiration for the doctors and nurses at the Whittle Ward, who showed the epitome of kindness and care. My husband thanked me for getting him admitted there. From my experience, palliative care should be more widely funded and promoted.

I hope our MPs throw this Bill out of parliament, that euthanasia never becomes law, and that more money is put into palliative care. When we consider the funding given to sporting events and tourism, government should put more money into palliative care for our aging population in Tasmania.

*Person’s real name has not been used as they wish to remain anonymous.

*Margaret, Sandy Bay, Tasmania

My name is Anthony Parr from Tasmania and I am pleased to be able to say a few words regarding my experience with palliative care here in Tasmania and India.

I have personally been involved with the direct care and transportation of palliative care patients. I also have had the joy of assisting my parents, grandmother and mother-in-law during their final weeks of life. The opportunity to assist both family and strangers in their final moments of life, is not only rewarding personally, but also gave me peace of mind, by applying my skills in a way that ultimately displays a great respect for the dignity of the human person.

I have some 36 years’ experience in the ambulance industry along with voluntary work in India (Mother Teresa’s- Home for the Dying). I can be very thankful that those I attended died in a very dignified manner. Good palliative care, quality medication and in most cases information and support, helped patients and family to cope with and understand the dying process.

For our country now to talk once again about voluntary assisted suicide under the banner of compassion, is not only misleading but a sad ending to the true dignity of the person concerned.

My experience tells me that people, if they are treated with respect and informed correctly along with the right level of medication, etc., will have the peace of mind and opportunity to spend quality time with family and embrace all the love and care good palliative care can offer.

My mother-in-law is one example where she not only wished to die at home but received excellent Home Care by the Palliative care team. She died exactly how she would have wanted—with true dignity.

I believe if those who advocate for assisted suicide opened up their mindset to embrace the true meaning of quality palliative care, they would embrace the desire to increase funding and promote solid information (especially to caregivers), so they may understand that the dying process is a natural part of our life. By talking and educating ourselves we will one day embrace a natural death without being frightened or anxious.

It has been an honour for me to put what I have written into action. I have seen the results good palliative care, and believe it is affordable to everyone.

Anthony Parr, New Town, TAS

After marrying a Hobartian, I have lived the last 50 years in Tasmania, raised my family here and watched my grandchildren develop into teenagers. Tassie is a lovely place of live and it’s difficult to contemplate living anywhere else.

After my mother became bedridden from a debilitating stroke, she developed seizures, and suffered pneumonia. For six years I visited her every day in the nursing home where she received wonderful care.

I also cared for my beloved husband who was initially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but this diagnosis was later changed to multiple system atrophy. He had difficulty feeding and drinking, and suffered muscular breakdown which meant he needed a walker and later a wheelchair, as well as homecare for bathing. In the end he became incontinent and suffered terminal delirium due to kidney failure. He had about 10 years of reasonable health before the more serious symptoms began to manifest. I would never wish this illness upon anyone, but both my husband and I would also never have contemplated assisted dying or euthanasia.

I am concerned about the End-of-Life Choice (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 because in other countries that have euthanasia, the lives of the vulnerable could be terminated even if they don’t wish to end their lives.  Euthanasia becomes commonplace. No safeguards are sufficient to eliminate the risks to the vulnerable.

When my husband was dying I said to the doctor that I didn’t believe in euthanasia. Even though I didn’t want him to suffer a lot, and I didn’t want him popped off either. The experience of caring for a loved one who is terminally ill was an opportunity to help him carry his suffering.

They are not old farm dogs to be put out of their misery when they are no longer useful. They are human beings with dignity and value. They have looked after us and now it’s time for us to look after them.  Our parents cared for us when we were totally dependent upon them as children. Now it’s time for us to care for them as they become increasingly dependent upon us.

It’s a contradiction that the government spends thousands of dollars on suicide prevention on the one hand, and on the other, we are now faced with a parliamentary debate to legalise suicide.

I hope Parliament rejects this bill, and that people come to their senses and realise the value of human life. Civilised society doesn’t kill off their elderly because they become a burden.

* Persons real name has not been used as they wish to remain anonymous.

*Elizabeth, Rose Bay, TAS

Many years ago, my elderly mother died of advanced cardio-respiratory disease in a Tasmanian public hospital. Over a few months, as her disease progressed, she lived independently but quite stoically at home.

Never one to give up, the thought of ‘ending it all’ ran counter to her beliefs and her faith. During her illness, even when the inevitable ‘end of life’ issues were being gently explored with her, she exclaimed candidly that “life was sweet” and every day she had left was important, and we whole-heartedly supported her in that.

Luckily, with the care of an excellent GP, and her family, she did not need to go to hospital until a few days before she died – and she retained the ability to make informed and reliable decisions about her treatments and lifestyle.

Our mother died peacefully surrounded by her family, having always professed a firm faith in God, and secure in her belief that death was not ‘the end’. On a physical level, the excellent medical and nursing care she received in our local hospital made her dying process as comfortable as it could possibly have been, given the severity of her illness.

I can say with certainty that she would not have supported any legislation that allowed someone to end their life voluntarily. Even during some of her most challenging times she actively invested effort to stay alive, and we were lucky to be able to spend that quality time with her.

We have to accept that not everyone sees it that way, and I read with sad resignation of people, who when faced with a terminal illness, seek to end their own life prematurely or to help a loved in that situation to do so.

Perhaps this is due to fear of pain, an absence of any belief system beyond the physical, or not wanting anyone they care for to suffer. It may also be that there is a lack of awareness around other options, i.e. palliative and hospice care that provide holistic management and excellent symptom control.

The currently proposed End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 presents a ‘slippery slope’, along with the hollow assurance that it has ‘safety features’ built into it. The dangers of such a Bill which fundamentally undermines the sanctity of human life and the safety of vulnerable people, may not as yet been fully recognised, even by those who so passionately support it.

Now, more than ever, it is important to spend money on educating the public around the benefits of palliative and hospice care, and the natural dying process. The need for governments to provide these services must be made a priority.

Elizabeth, Launceston, TAS

I lost my father to cancer many years ago. Yes, he, and our family suffered in the weeks leading up to his death. But, I cherish the opportunity we had of caring for him and saying our goodbyes.

My mother has been living in a nursing home for several years now. She is burdened with dementia, painful arthritis and very limited mobility. Every time I speak to her she comments (always more than once) how happy she is living there, and how lucky she is. This prompts a private chuckle, as I recall how adamantly she insisted that she would never agree to living in a nursing home, promising to ‘run away’ and to ‘behave so badly that they will throw me out’ should we go against her will in this. She has forgotten, proving that dementia can bring some blessings.

What strikes me is just how easy it would have been for me to manipulate her into requesting euthanasia. A ‘chance’ conversation long ago, repeated now and then:

“Did you hear about how so and so died? So tragic that they suffered…”

“Isn’t he good to his mother, looking after her like that, but he can’t go on holidays, his poor family.”

“Wouldn’t you hate being like so and so, having to be cared for.”

The seed of an idea sown long ago, nourished in casual conversation along the way, and allowed to germinate when the time comes – and she would adamantly believe that it was her idea. I wouldn’t need to prompt her, the request would be her own. Indeed, even if at the time I expressed opposition, she would say that it’s her choice, not mine. EASY.

So, so easy, and no legislated so called ‘safeguard’ could protect against it.

Lucky she lives in Tasmania, where the law currently protects her. But if things (and I) were different, instead of hoping that someday I will be able to afford to renovate my kitchen, that ‘new’ kitchen, purchased with my inheritance, would already be starting to look a little shabby. But we would have lost her. My children would not have the opportunity to grow into better people by caring for and about her.

She would never have come to end her days happy, and thankful for the care she receives. Instead she would have ended her life fearful of having to be cared for.

Legalising euthanasia may seem like a kindness in some situations, or even a practicality. But it opens the very real possibility of the ultimate elder abuse: premature death for the sake of an inheritance.

Some have pointed out that the old, the sick, the dying, have nothing to contribute but the burden of their care. This is so not true. It is the CARE of our most vulnerable, of those suffering, that teaches us our humanity. And ironically, it is the society that argues that those people would be better off dead – that needs them the most.

Anna, Allens Rivulet, TAS

My name is Adriana and I am a resident of Hobart.  My grandmother was diagnosed with a terminal illness (Multiple myeloma).  This was a nasty illness and naturally involved specialist visits and a few hospital stays for treatment. Luckily she was able to spend her final days at home surrounded by multiple family members and had medical care from a trained medical professional.  Never was euthanasia discussed as an alternative to palliative care.  She was able to experience the love and care of her family members who did all within their power to make sure that she was comfortable, ensuring that her dignity was paramount at all times. Much time was spent sitting quietly with her, which was a nice time to have.  She passed away quietly and with dignity. 

I find it quite offensive that euthanasia is promoted in the mainstream media as dying with dignity, as if it is undignified to die naturally.  The natural is now becoming the unnatural.  Seeing a loved one dying is not easy but with it comes acceptance and a time to come to terms with it.  Voluntary assisted dying will no doubt open the door to those seeking advantage from it e.g. family who want someone to die to get it over with, who are waiting for an inheritance etc.  It also sends the message that life is not worth living and many people would feel a burden to those around them or feel pressured to choose likewise.  

I believe more funding needs to be allocated to palliative care.  It is important that people feel assured that if they have a terminal illness they can rest assured that they will have their needs met, especially with regards to pain management and the choice to stay at home if they wish and have specialist nurses/doctors visit.  People should not have to feel that they have no option but to seek euthanasia.  People deserve better than that. 

Zac Golus, Euthanasia Tasmania story
Adriana, West Hobart, Tasmania

My husband and I had two consecutive daughters born with genetic disease. On diagnosis the geneticist told us they wouldn’t see their teenage years. We were devastated our beautiful girls were going to slowly lose the ability to eat, drink and finally breathe.

It was terrifying on so many levels, and so many questions no one could answer. So we settled on taking just one day at a time, we would deal with problems as they came.

They both didn’t even get to the age of one year: Molly died at 11 months and Annabelle died at 8 months. They had a rare muscular disease where their muscles would slowly atrophy making them unable to swallow and eventually breathe.

We cared for and loved them while we watched them deteriorate and become very unwell with pneumonia and then take their last breaths. We had a palliative care nurse and wonderful G.P. We kept them at home with their brother and us, and they were able to die at home in our arms.I don’t believe they suffered too much as we were able to give them oral morphine for pain relief. We were advised by our nurse and G.P. about doses and how to tell when they needed more. I believe they were kept comfortable on the medication.

It was so painful for us as parents to watch them die and let them go. The pain felt was due to the love we felt for our beautiful little girls.Euthanasia thankfully didn’t enter our minds and it wasn’t a legal option anyway. I can’t imagine compounding the pain and grief we felt as our beloved daughters were dying with a decision to actively end their lives sooner.

When you’re grieving a dying person, the confusion and fear is all consuming; having to make an active decision to kill them is dangerous. The guilt you may have to live with because you decided to end their life early would be too much to bear.

I recently had to put my dear old dog down. As I watched the vet push that syringe to inject the anaesthetic into my dog I kept thinking, “I’ve done this to her; I’m the one who okayed her death.” It felt so wrong even on a beloved pet. You question your motives: was she just a burden? Could she have had a comeback, etc.? To do that to a human would just add confusion to the grieving experience.

I believe the palliative care our baby girls received as excellent. We should not play God but keep our loved one’s pain free and comfortable. Taking care of a dying loved one can bring the absolute best of our humanity out in us, and we shouldn’t try and avoid the pain that leads to that.

I hope the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 will be defeated in Parliament. More funding is needed to improve palliative care and pain management training for medical staff.

Sam Males, Cygnet, TAS