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NSW voters reject moves to limit aged care residents' access to VAD

Three quarters (75%) of NSW voters say they do not support a bid by religious health care providers to ban access to Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) in aged care facilities they run.

74.9% of voters surveyed in a new poll said dying people should have access to all legal medical treatment options in the privacy of their own home, even if this is an aged care facility.

A similar strong majority (74.1%) said if the dying person lived in an aged care home, management should not be able to stop them accessing voluntary assisted dying.

The statewide telephone poll of 915 people was conducted by Redbridge polling on behalf of Go Gentle Australia, on 13 and 14 May.

The strong support for universal access to VAD was recorded across the political spectrum with Liberal, Nationals, Labor, Greens and independent voters.

Go Gentle Australia founding director Andrew Denton said: “People don’t like being told what they can and can’t do in the privacy of their own homes. It is deeply unpopular and goes against mandated aged care standards for an aged care provider to have the power to decide who in their care gets access to legal end of life treatments.”

“It is people, not institutions, who suffer at the end of life. When they move into aged care, it is often their last permanent home – it’s just plain wrong that management of these facilities could be allowed to dictate what legal medical treatments they have.”

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 returns to the NSW Upper House tomorrow (Wed 18 May) for a third reading debate and final vote.

The Bill passed its second reading last week by a slim margin, 20 votes to 17. The Lower House passed the bill after intense scrutiny in November, 52 votes to 32.

Opponents in the Upper House have lodged multiple amendments aiming to restrict access to VAD for residents in religiously run aged care facilities.

NSW is the only Australian state without Voluntary Assisted Dying laws.

Go Gentle’s Andrew Denton said the Upper House should now pass the Bill without delay to bring NSW in line with other states.

“Community support for Voluntary Assisted Dying has never been stronger and transcends political divides.

“People are passionate about this issue and overwhelmingly support it. They expect the Parliament and their elected representatives to reflect the community’s desire for these laws to be passed so dying people in NSW have the same compassionate options as other Australians.

“Every day matters in this debate. Terminally ill people are dying waiting for this choice. We urge MPs to avoid cynical amendments that would deny aged care residents their legal rights simply because of where they live.”

About the poll

  • The study was conducted via touch-tone response automated phone survey conducted 13-14 May 2022.
  • Polling was conducted between 17:30 - 20:20 weekdays and 10:00 - 17:30 Saturdays at the local time of respondents so as to not over-sample nonworkers and stay-at-homes.
  • The study was conducted among a sample of n=915 people aged 18 years and over.
  • Telephone numbers included both landline and mobile phone numbers.
  • The poll’s effective margin of error is +/-4.9%
  • Respondents were asked ‘Should you have access to all legal medical treatment options at the end of life in your own home, even if this is an aged care facility?’ 74.9% of respondents answered yes, 10.3% said no, and 14.9% were undecided.
  • Respondents were then asked ‘If the dying person exercising their right to voluntary assisted dying lives in an aged care home, should the management of the aged care facility be able to stop the person from accessing assisted dying?’ 74.1% said aged care facility management should not be able to block access to VAD. 13.9% said management should, while 12% said they were unsure.

Read the survey report here.

Media contact: Steve Offner, Go Gentle Australia 0426 283 865

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