Yesterday’s passage of voluntary assisted dying legislation by the New South Wales parliament is a pivotal moment in the effort to ensure that Australians across the country have access to dignified and compassionate end of care options, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) confirmed today.
“ACN understands that voluntary assisted dying continues to raise passionate feelings, and we have never urged politicians to vote against their conscience on the matter. However, we also feel that it was appropriate for the elected representatives of New South Wales to resolve this issue in order to provide clarity for patients, their families, and the workforce who provide end of life care,” explained Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, CEO of ACN.
ACN highlighted as early as 2018 that nurses routinely receive requests for assisted dying. Numerous studies have shown that over the past 20 years between 1 per cent and 18 per cent of nurses either provided or prescribed drugs to a patient knowing the patient intended to use them to hasten death.
“It is paramount that voluntary assisted dying remains a personal choice, and that a framework exists to assist the countless nurses and other healthcare professionals who are tasked with providing care to patients considering end of life options,” Adjunct Professor Ward noted.
“In response to the passage of the Victorian legislation, ACN proactively developed a position statement on voluntary assisted dying and the following year authored a white paper on the scope and impact of nursing contributions. This has since been supplemented by a toolkit to support nurse-led palliative and end of life care models.
“It is equally vital that we continue the discussion on implementing voluntary assisted dying legislation in Australia. This includes strict accountability measures, but also working towards ensuring that all Australians have a say on the issue. To this end we are committed to supporting federal legislation aimed at allowing the citizens of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to decide appropriate laws on voluntary assisted dying within their respective jurisdictions,” she concluded.