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Eva Lawler (Territory Labor)

Northern Territory Labor is surveying whether there is public support for allowing people to access euthanasia because of mental illness, prompting concerns the Government is considering offering vulnerable patients “death instead of the support they need”. Source: The Australian.

With the NT planning on being the final jurisdiction in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying, residents have been encouraged to answer a government survey on how they think the Territory’s scheme should be designed.

It includes a question of whether people should be able to use the scheme “if they only have a mental health condition as the reason for their access”.

The survey also asked whether dementia patients should be able to initiate a plan to euthanise themselves when their disease has progressed to the point they can no longer consent.

The NT Government, now led by Labor Chief Minister Eva Lawler, began the consultation to reintroduce VAD laws in November, with the survey closing at the end of the month.

Palliative care clinician Maria Cigolini, the administrator of advocacy group Health Professionals Say No, said the questions asked in the survey were “biased and insensitive to many of the issues that are facing Territorians and First Nations people”.

Associate Professor Cigolini said it was problematic to introduce VAD legislation in the NT because of the significant health and social issues facing its large Indigenous population, and poor access to health services, including palliative care.

“We already see in the Territory higher mortality rates, lower life expectancy, higher death rates from chronic disease, higher prevalence of mental health problems, high rates of alcohol abuse and smoking,” she said.

“So what we really need is not another way for these people to die, what we need is upstream strategies to promote resilience and healing and access to healthcare and social services.”


Concerning Territory: NT surveys public support on euthanasia for mentally ill (By Rhiannon Down, The Australian)

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