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2023 Conference Program


Wednesday 27 Sept 2023

Voluntary Assisted Dying: In practice in Australia and New Zealand 

[Clinicians only]





Welcome to Country - Aunty Joan, Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council

Introduction - Conference MC Molly Carlile AM and Dr Linda Swan, CEO of Go Gentle Australia


Official launch of a new peak body for VAD, VADANZ

Dr Cam McLaren and Susan Jury present VADANZ (Voluntary Assisted Dying Australia & New Zealand)


Session 1 - The development of VAD in Australia and NZ: In conversation with the Review Boards

Presentation by Professor Ben White, QUT, and panel discussion with representatives from state Review Boards: Julian Gardner AM (VIC), Linda Savage (WA), Dr Kristin Good (NZ), Louise Mollross (TAS), Associate Professor Melanie Turner (SA), Associate Professor Helen Irving (QLD) and Dr Wade Stedman, Clinical Lead NSW VAD Implementation.  


Morning tea (30 mins)


Session 2 - Interactive breakout session: What hurts? Identifying pain points in the VAD process for clinicians and patients

A chance to discuss key issues and meet interstate colleagues. 


Lunch (1hr)


Session 2 continued - Sharing our findings


Session 3 - Is that better? Continuous improvement for VAD care

Susan Jury, Head of Victoria's Care Navigator Service, will chair a discussion representing multidisciplinary perspectives: Dr Bu O'Brien (GP, WA), Lauren Cortis (Lead Pharmacist, VAD Pharmacy Service SA), Dr Greg Mewett (Palliative Care Specialist, VIC), and Susan Fryer (Intern Nurse Practitioner, NZ).


Session 4 - Grief and bereavement in VAD

Hayley Russell, bereavement specialist in community palliative care, presents insights from her recent Churchill Fellowship: The Double-Edged Experience; Preparedness, Duality and the Pathways of Grief after Voluntary Assisted Dying

Nick Hobbes, Tasmanian VAD Care Navigator and former Senior Social Worker with the Grief and Loss Counselling Service, Royal Hobart Hospital, presents: Human, lumen, sadness, madness: Learning to carry grief as a person and a professional.


Afternoon tea (30 mins)


Session 5 - Making the VAD model work long term

Chair Lesley McLeod, the Assistant Director of Nursing at QVAD-Support in Queensland, leads a panel discussion with Dr Gareth Wahl (Emergency Physician and VAD practitioner) and Dr Anna Negus (Anaesthetist and VAD practitioner who has co-founded the WA VAD Group).


Session 6 - Your wishlist: How can VADANZ best support you?

Molly Carlile AM leads an all-conference workshop to help define VADANZ's future role.


Session 7 - Have your say: Shaping the national policy agenda

Audience votes for VAD policy priorities, to be presented to policymakers on Day 2 of the Conference.


Closing remarks

Dr Linda Swan, CEO of Go Gentle Australia, and Dr Gareth Wahl, Emergency Physician and Secretary of VADANZ.

Including a personal message from Andrew Denton.

5.00 - 6.30

Networking event: ‘The Power of Choice’ exhibition

Your chance to preview a new exhibition from Go Gentle and renowned portrait photographer Julian Kingma.



Thursday 28 Sept 2023

Voluntary Assisted Dying: A safe and accessible system for patients and clinicians





Acknowledgement of Country and welcome from our MC, Molly Carlile AM


Session 1 - Opening address

Delivered by the Attorney-General of South Australia, Kyam Maher


Session 2 - Insights from Day 1: Frontline perspectives

Dr Linda Swan, CEO of Go Gentle Australia, Professor Michael Dooley, Director of Pharmacy at Alfred Health, and Professor Liz Reymond, Director of Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Support and Pharmacy Service, present insights from Day 1 of the conference.


Session 3 - The difference VAD makes

Hear directly from individuals with first-hand experience.


Session 4 - Navigating VAD: The experience of participating and non-participating providers

Dr Paul Eleftheriou, Principal of Nous, will chair this session featuring presentations from Tsultrim Pearse from Karuna Hospice, Queensland, Jane Pickering in her role as CEO of Eldercare (aged care and retirement living in South Australia) and a guide to adapting policies on VAD from Nicky Stitt, a Care Navigator in Victoria. Followed by a panel discussion.


Morning tea (30 mins)


Session 5 - Establishing VAD as part of usual practice

Palliative medicine specialist Dr Rohan Vora is joined by a panel including Tina McCafferty, Chief Executive of Tōtara Hospice NZ; Josh Fear, Head of Policy at Palliative Care Australia; Dr Roger Hunt, Palliative Care Specialist in SA; and Suzie Hooper, Director of Clinical Services and VAD Response, Epworth, Victoria.


Session 6 - Meeting the needs of different patient groups in VAD

Haley McNamara will share Queensland Health's approach to designing VAD resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We'll also hear about Australia's first case of organ donation for a VAD patient in Victoria from Larna Woodyatt.


Lunch (1hr)


Welcome back


Session 7 - Building a sustainable VAD service

Dr Clare Fellingham is joined by Professor Liz Reymond, Director of QVAD Support Services, Dr Peter Allcroft, Senior Staff Specialist at Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, Dr Wade Stedman, NSW VAD Clinical Lead, and Dr Kerr Wright, GP New Zealand


Session 8 - How best to support and develop VAD clinicians?

Dr Hannah Gould tells us how the Melbourne Medical School are building VAD into university education.

Meg Plaster from the VAD Statewide Care Navigator Service WA reveals insights from her recent Churchill Fellowship.


Afternoon tea (30 minutes)


Session 9 - Future directions for VAD

ACT Minister for Human Rights Tara Cheyne MLA and Co-Chair of the NT's VAD Expert Advisory Panel The Hon Vicki O’Halloran AO CVO with updates from the territories.

This will be followed by a thought provoking session led by Professors Ben White and Lindy Willmott, QUT.


Closing remarks

Molly Carlile AM, Dr Paul Eleftheriou, Dr Linda Swan and Dr Cam McLaren close the conference.

4.30 - 6.00

Networking event: ‘The Power of Choice’ exhibition

Your chance to preview a new exhibition from Go Gentle and renowned portrait photographer Julian Kingma.