End of life choices committee: WA to weigh up assisted dying laws

WA man David Goodall travelled to Switzerland in May to end his life. Photo: Getty
WA man David Goodall travelled to Switzerland in May to end his life. Photo: Getty

THE Joint Standing Committee on End of Life Choices has recommended WA introduce assisted dying legislation.

The Committee recently completed a 12-month inquiry into the need for citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end-of-life choices.

Morley MLA Amber-Jade Sanderson, the Committee chair, said too many West Australians experience “profound suffering as they die … due to inequitable access to palliative care”.

“Unnecessary suffering at end of life, and broad community agreement regarding individual autonomy, form the basis for the committee’s recommendation that the West Australian government draft and introduce a bill for voluntary assisted dying,” she said.

“To use the words of submitter Mr James Hindle: ‘the ultimate act of compassion is surely to allow someone to choose to end their suffering, even when we want them to stay with us’.”

Among the inquiry’s findings were the fact that about 10 per cent of suicides in Western Australia are by people with a terminal or debilitating illness who endured lonely and violent deaths.

The committee concluded the current lawful options available to people experiencing grievous and irremediable suffering at end of life are inadequate, and can be exceptionally difficult for the dying person and for their family and friends.

Over the course of the inquiry, the Committee conducted 81 public hearings and received around 700 written submissions.

Submissions were made by broad range of stakeholders, community groups and organisations and also included Western Australians’ personal statements on their experiences with end-of-life choices.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.