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  • 08 Nov 2021 9:51 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Assisted dying in New Zealand became a legal choice from this coming Sunday, just as our health system is being increasingly overwhelmed by COVID.

    Changes to the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act - New Zealand Parliament

    End-of-Life Choice Society President, Dr Mary Panko, is worried that terminally ill patients who want to end their suffering may now hesitate to ask their doctor for help for fear of adding to the medical burden.

    Dr Panko recognises it’s an awkward time for the new legislation to come into force, but she says “Anyone who fits the criteria of being terminally ill, diagnosed to die within six months, and suffering unbearably, please don’t be put off. Be brave, ask for assistance and if you are not getting it, come to us. We are here to help. The End-of-Life Choice Society continues to provide public education and information on its website at”

    “We highlight the eligibility criteria, how to express a request for assisted dying and what to do if your doctor turns out to be a conscientious objector.”

    Dr Panko says “the new law brings enormous peace of mind for those whose dying would otherwise be protracted, terrifying, agonising or dehumanising. They can now ask a doctor to help them die earlier thus avoiding days, weeks or perhaps months of unbearable suffering.”

    Aotearoa New Zealand has around 35,000 deaths each year. Of these, it is expected only 1% or 2% will meet the eligibility criteria for assisted dying. “Our eligibility criteria are very strict, much stricter than in, say, Belgium, the Netherlands or Canada. We have strong safeguards and protocols to ensure scrutiny and oversight both before and after the assisted death.”

    “As it happens, today, 2 November is World Right-to-Die Day – celebrated each year by the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies. Around 250 million people worldwide are now covered by assisted dying laws and that number is growing. People will no longer be fobbed off with false promises that palliative care can relieve suffering for everyone if only enough money is put towards it. Data-driven and anecdotal evidence from around the world show that it simply cannot.”

    “We thank our politicians for changing the law, New Zealanders for voting to endorse the legislation at the 2019 referendum, and most importantly we thank our medical workforce for their compassion and willingness to help those of us who would otherwise face a tortured end.”

    Contact Details:

  • 12 Oct 2021 12:56 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Hon Andrew Little –-Minister of Health

    12 October 2021


    Health system is ready for assisted-dying law

    The health system is ready for the implementation of the End of Life Choice Act when it takes effect next month, making assisted dying legal in New Zealand, Health Minister Andrew Little said today.

    The law received 65.1 per cent support in a public referendum held alongside last year’s general election, and is due to come into force on November 7.

    Andrew Little says the Government has appointed a three-person specialist committee to oversee the operation of the Act. Membership of the End of Life Review Committee must include a medical ethicist, a doctor specialising in end-of-life care and a health practitioner.

    The first three members of the committee are:

    - Dr Dana Wensley, medical ethicist.

    - Ms Belinda Close, health practitioner.

    - Dr Jane Greville, medical practitioner practising end-of-life care.

    “The committee will review reports on assisted deaths and report to the Registrar (assisted dying) at the Ministry of Health and to the Minister of Health,” Andrew Little said.

    “This independent review mechanism is one of the many safeguards put in place to ensure the service is operating in line with strict criteria set out by the Act.

    “The other body required under the legislation, the Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group, or SCENZ, was appointed in August. Its responsibilities include maintaining a list of health practitioners providing assisted-dying services, and helping develop and oversee standards of care.”

    Andrew Little said the Government had also put in place funding, through the Ministry of Health.

    “The Government is committed to ensuring health services are available equally to everyone who needs them, and this includes assisted-dying services,” Andrew Little said.

    “We expect that in most circumstances, these services will be provided in the community and will be free for people who meet the strict eligibility criteria.

    “Medical and nurse practitioners who provide care as part of the assisted-dying service will be paid for their work and for their travel costs.”

    For further information contact Adelia Hallett 021 802 905

    Biographical details for members of the first End of Life Review Committee

    Dr Dana Wensley is a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and Commissioner for Resource Management Act hearings. She has previously worked as a registered nurse, solicitor and a senior research fellow. Since 2015, she has been a lawyer-member of the National Ethics Advisory Committee and a community representative on the Hospital Advisory Committee at Nelson Marlborough District Health Board. She is also the current chair of the Tasman District Council’s Regulatory Committee and for the Accessibility for All Forum. She received her doctorate in Medical Law and Ethics from King’s College in London in 2006.

    Belinda Close has been the director of nursing at Ashburton Rural Health Services since 2018 and is co-chair Māori of both the Nurses Executive New Zealand and the National Nurse Leaders Group. She has 31 years’ experience managing and handling sophisticated health needs of people in hospitals and communities across Aotearoa and Australia, with a focus on indigenous health, clinical supervision and corporate and clinical governance.

    Dr Jane Greville is a palliative care consultant at Harbour Hospice in Auckland and previously worked as the Medical Officer at North Shore Hospice. She is a representative on the executive of the Aotearoa branch of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine, and previously served as a member of the Board of Dove Hospice. She has more than 30 years’ experience working in health care, primarily in general practice, and has worked specifically in palliative care since 2013.

    More information on the implementation of the Act and the End of Life Review Committee can be found at

  • 24 Sep 2021 3:45 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: Go Gentle Australia

    Opportunity: Participate in academic research

    With Victoria's voluntary assisted dying scheme operational for more than two years, now is an opportune time for researchers to examine the system and see how it can be improved.

    We are sharing with you two opportunities to participate in academic research about VAD in Victoria. You will contribute to research that will shape and improve VAD laws in Australia and around the globe.

    1 Help Professor Ben White, QUT & his international team with their leading research

    Ben is one of the leading end-of-life researchers in Australia and helped shape Queensland's recent VAD law along with his research partner Professor Lindy Willmott. This project will explore the regulation of voluntary assisted dying (VAD) as a new and important aspect of end-of-life decision-making and propose a new optimal regulatory framework for VAD in Australia. Read more

    • Have you been involved in decision-making about accessing voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Victoria or supported a loved one through this process?

    • Are you an adult with a diagnosis of terminal illness or the family member of an adult with terminal illness?

    If you answered yes to both of these questions, please contact Professor Ben White on 07 3138 4066 or email

    You will need to be available for a private interview (up to 1hr) either in-person or by telephone/Zoom.

    2 Participate in a study led by Monash University about VAD in Victoria

    Researchers from a number of universities, led by Monash University, are involved in a four year project to evaluate the impact and consequences of the Victorian VAD law.

    The Monash team want to speak to people diagnosed with a terminal illness, people who are contemplating choosing VAD and bereaved family or carers of people who have been through the VAD process.

    To find out more contact the VAD Research Project on 03 9903 8286 or email

    Participation will involve completing a questionnaire and taking part in a short interview and/or a focus group. The team may ask to follow up with you periodically.

    Thank you for your ongoing support,

    The Team at Go Gentle Australia

  • 17 Sep 2021 10:39 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: Go Gentle Australia

    Exciting news. Queensland has become the fifth Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying - and the third this year!

    Parliament voted this evening to pass the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 into law without amendment, 61 votes to 30.

    The law now heads to the Governor for royal assent. It will come into effect in Jan 2023.

    We applaud everyone who made this moment possible

    - Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, her deputy Steven Miles and parliamentary staff for their leadership and stewardship of the Bill. 

    - Parliamentary Health Committee chair Aaron Harper and fellow members for their tireless work and compassion. 

    - Independent MP Sandy Bolton and the Greens for their longstanding crossbench advocacy.

    - All MPs who voted Yes for the rights of the terminally ill. 

    Most importantly, we pay tribute to the community advocates who campaigned for this law, sometimes over decades. 

    - Indefatigable local campaigners Tanya Battel and her Gang of Four (Bev Young, Lyn Bailey, Therese McLean), Fiona Jacobs and her group Nurses Supporting VAD, Jann Stuckey, Dr Will Cairns, Dr Gracelyn Smallwood, Marj Lawrence, Moya Jackson, Phil Browne, John Ancliffe, Kaela Gray, Susan Reilly, Everald Compton and Penny Tovey.

    - Dying with Dignity Queensland, led by Jos Hall, Jeannette Wiley and Jen Blake, which, together with Doctors for Assisted Dying Choice and the Clem Jones Group, formed the My Life My Choice alliance.

    -The QLD4VAD alliance, showcasing a broad coalition of support from unions, doctors, nurses, first responders, lawyers and other groups.  

    - Queensland’s union movement, which was central to the success of the campaign. Special thanks to Stu Traill of the ETU, who took on the VAD cause in memory of Peter 'Simmo' Simpson, former ETU secretary and VAD advocate, who died from melanoma last year.

    - Professors Ben White and Lindy Willmott from the Australian Centre for Health Law Research for their expert forensic advice and advocacy.

    And every supporter and advocate, past and present, who bravely shared their stories, contacted MPs, donated funds and volunteered their precious time.

    This historic moment particularly honours those who are no longer with us, but whose courageous advocacy was instrumental in changing MPs’ hearts and minds.

    A win for compassion and evidence

    We congratulate everyone for the respect shown on all sides of the debate and the reliance on evidence to formulate public policy.

    Go Gentle Australia's time spent speaking with MPs, our leadership of the QLD4VAD Alliance, a dedicated advertising and social media campaign and our evidence-based resources, including the Better Off Dead podcast, were central to the success.

    17 million Australians now live in a state with VAD laws

    But we won't rest until all of us have access to compassionate and humane choice at the end of life.

    A VAD bill is soon to be tabled in the NSW parliament and a bill is before the Australian parliament to give back to the Northern Territory the right to pass VAD laws.

  • 15 Sep 2021 5:21 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: NZ Doctor } Rata Aotearoa

    Terminal illness likely to end life within six months is one of the criteria – but all must be met for a person’s assisted death to proceed

    Cancer teenAt least 99 health professionals want to learn the practical details of helping people to die once it becomes legal in New Zealand from 7 November.

    It’s understood approximately 30 people are expected to request assisted dying in the first week of the regime made possible by the End of Life Choice Act 2019.

    The 99 practitioners indicating they may play a part, are those who have signed up for two days of training at a Ministry of Health forum later this month. Only those intending to provide assisted dying can attend day two and learn the practicalities.

    A further 94 health professionals have registered for the broad-brush introduction on day one, said the ministry in late August.

    The workforce forum, on 29 and 30 September in Wellington (COVID-19 permitting, with online options as backup) requires three or four hours’ preparation via online learning.

    A statement, provided to New Zealand Doctor Rata Aotearoa by senior media advisor Blair Cunningham, says 2022 individuals and groups have completed the assisted-dying training module at LearnOnline. A total of 2503 have enrolled.

    Doctors and nurse practitioners are the clinicians who can provide assisted dying services once the act comes into force. Those who choose to, will be required to complete a set of online learning modules, says the ministry.

    Amid sector doubts about the number of willing medical practitioners, the ministry also last month gave an update on its latest survey of health professionals. However, they were not this time asked whether they anticipated providing assisted dying.

    In February, a similar survey prompted 30 per cent of the 1980 respondents to say they would or might provide the service to eligible patients.

    The second survey, in July, drew 859 responses. Half of these were interested in further education and training. Twenty-three per cent had done online training and 35 per cent said they had a good understanding of health professionals’ obligations.

    More resources and training are in preparation, for example, about the assisted-dying pathway, conversations about assisted dying, policies and procedures, and educating non-clinical and/or non-regulated workers.

    Roles in assisting New Zealanders to die include:

    • •attending medical practitioner – responds to their patient’s request for help to die, discusses it with them, undertakes where applicable a first assessment of whether they meet the criteria; supports them to make an application; once the assisted death has approval, can help the patient and their whānau plan the death; can attend and either administer the medicine or supervise the patient self-administering it
    • •replacement attending medical practitioner – to be called on if the practitioner approached by the patient is not willing to take part/conscientiously objects
    • •independent medical practitioner – a doctor who undertakes a second, independent assessment
    • •psychiatrist – a clinician who advises in cases where the first and second assessments differ on whether the patient is competent to decide they wish to be helped to die
    • •nurse practitioner – helps the patient and their whānau plan the assisted death, attends and either administers the medicine or supervises the patient self-administering it
    • •registrar (assisted dying) – ministry-employed executive who preapproves a death, checking the person is eligible.

    The ministry statement says it expects health organisations to consider their role and plan for it. The implementation team “continues to prioritise wide engagement with health service providers”, including DHBs and PHOs.

    Most assisted deaths are expected to be carried out in people’s homes, with the practitioner paid by the ministry under Section 88 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. No word is yet available on the fee. The service is free to patients.

    A Cabinet paper indicates that travel-time payments are intended for practitioners assisting a patient who lives some distance away.

    Assisted dying within DHBs is to be funded from existing DHB budgets, the paper says.

    Ministry of Health End of Life Choice Act implementation web pages: and Health Navigator New Zealand describes the process from the patient’s point of view at:

    Who can be helped to die?

    To be eligible under the End of Life Choice Act 2019, a person must:

    • be aged 18 years or over
    • be a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand
    • be diagnosed with a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six months
    • be in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability
    • experience unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person considers tolerable
    • be competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying.

  • 25 Aug 2021 2:21 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    EOLC Society National President Mary Panko is pleased to announce that Society member Philip Patston is one of only eleven people NZ-wide who has been appointed to the SCENZ group, a statutory consultancy body required by the End of Life Choice Act 2019.

    Philip is Managing Director of Diversity New Zealand. His company promotes diversity and belonging as a cultural norm and a force for social improvement. You can read Philip’s post on the EOLC debate here. He debunks a lot of myths.

    Philip’s expertise lies in understanding the barriers encountered by the disability community in everyday life and the potential for mandated safeguards to be overlooked due to assumptions too freely given. He has personal experience of living with a disability.

    “I’m committed to ensuring disabled people will have the same entitlements and protections as anyone else related to assisted dying,” he says. “Likewise I want to see equity and dignified access for other communities.”

    Members of the SCENZ group are appointed for a period of 2 years. Congratulations and thanks, Philip!

  • 21 Aug 2021 1:03 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    We extend our sympathies to the family of Sir Michael Cullen, a champion of assisted dying legalisation, as he was a champion of so many other good causes.  Sir Michael died on 19 August from lung cancer.  We thank him for his advocacy for a compassionate end to life at a time when the movement for the right to die with dignity needed a voice of his gravitas.

    Read more here »

  • 03 Aug 2021 9:19 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: 1 NEWS

    A new statutory body has been established ahead of euthanasia becoming legal in New Zealand in November. 

    The Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand group (SCENZ) is charged with maintaining and providing a list of medical practitioners and psychiatrists as part of the service when required. 

    The 11-person group will “support the development of the standards of care for medicines as part of the implementation of the [End of Life Choice] Act". 

    Appointed by the Director-General of Health, the team will serve a term for two years. 

    "The calibre of candidates was extremely high, and the members together bring significant clinical and health and disability sector experience,” Dr Bloomfield said.

    “The SCENZ group brings collective experience in the awareness of Te Ao Māori and an understanding of Tikanga Māori; clinical expertise, expertise in ethics and law, and the disability sector; and includes representation of the views of patients, whānau and the community.

    "Membership includes health professionals, among them a psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and a nurse practitioner, all of them currently practising.”

    The group includes: 

    • Dr Caroline Ansley - a general practitioner based in Christchurch
    • Dr Michael Austen - a Wellington-based specialist physician in occupational and environmental medicine and urgent care
    • Dr Kynan Bazley - currently a general practitioner based in Nelson
    • Heather Browning - a director and owner of a company providing service audits and projects, largely in the disability sector
    • Dr Gary Cheung - currently a specialist old age psychiatrist working at the University of Auckland and Auckland DHB  
    • Máté Hegedus-Gaspar - currently a pharmacist and pharmacy manager based in Christchurch
    • Dr Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke - the deputy head of school/senior lecturer at the College of Education at the University of Canterbury
    • Leanne Manson - currently a policy analyst Māori for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation based in Wellington
    • Philip Patston - a company director and owner based in Auckland
    • Dr Jackie Robinson - a senior lecturer and nurse practitioner at the University of Auckland
    • Dr Jessica Young - a post-doctoral fellow at the School of Health, Victoria University of Wellington

    SCENZ will also work closely with the secretariat of the assisted dying service.

    Euthanasia becomes legally available in the country from 7 November this year.

  • 25 Jun 2021 10:16 AM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: Go Gentle Australia

    In breaking news, South Australia has become the fourth Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying - and the second this year!

    Finally, after 25 years and 17 bills, SA's Lower House has this morning approved final amendments and ratified the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020.

    It now heads to the Governor for royal assent. The law's implementation period is yet to be confirmed, but we expect it will be no longer than 18 months.

    We applaud everyone who made this moment possible

    Kyam Maher MLC who wrote and introduced this private member's bill to the Upper House; Susan Close MP, whose joint sponsorship and stewardship was instrumental in the bill's success in the Lower House.

    Voluntary Assisted Dying SA (VADSA), expertly led by Frances Coombe, Anne Bunning, Lainie Anderson and Justine Firth, and flanked by a dedicated membership.

    Indefatigable local advocates Angie Miller, Ceara Rickard, Jacqui Possingham, Jan Kemble, Jane Qualmann, Kym Watson, Liz Habermann and Susie Byrne.

    And every advocate, past and present, who bravely shared their stories, contacted MPs and volunteered their precious time.

    This historic achievement honours those who are no longer with us, but whose courageous advocacy was instrumental in changing MPs' hearts and minds.

    Go Gentle Australia is proud to stand alongside these local heroes. Our evidence-based resources, including the Better Off Dead podcast and our e-books and submissions, were referenced numerous times throughout the parliamentary debate and played a central role in this Bill's success.

    Almost 12 million Australians now live in a state with VAD laws.

    But we won't rest until all of us have access to compassionate and humane choice at the end of life.

    Queensland will vote on their bill in September, with NSW and the Territories to follow.

  • 10 Jun 2021 12:27 PM | EOLC Admin (Administrator)

    Source: ABC

    A bill to legalise euthanasia has passed South Australia's Lower House for the first time and is now all but certain to become law.

    Key points:

    • MPs debated the legislation into the early hours of Thursday
    • Several amendments were added to the bill and it now has to go back to the Upper House to be ratified
    • If endorsed, South Australia will become the fourth state in the country to legalise assisted dying

    The major milestone was the 17th attempt in 26 years to legalise voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.

    MPs debated the legislation for six hours into the early hours of Thursday before voting 33 to 11 in favour of giving terminally ill patients the right to request a lethal drug to end their lives.

    Several amendments were added to the bill, which now has to go back to the Upper House to be ratified before euthanasia can be legalised.

    If endorsed there, South Australia will become the fourth state in the country to legalise euthanasia.

    A man in a suit speaks to people holding protest signs on the steps of a classical building

    The bill was introduced to the Lower House by Labor MP Susan Close, who said it was a historic night for South Australia.

    "It will be, in my view, the right thing, but importantly in the view of countless South Australians, something that they will be grateful we took on, we did seriously, and I hope turned into law," she said.

    The bill was first introduced to the Upper House by Labor MP Kyam Maher and passed in May after members voted 14 to 7 in favour.

    Mr Maher said he became an advocate for voluntary assisted dying after witnessing his mother die in pain from cancer.

    "After she passed away I knew, being a supporter wasn't enough anymore, I had to do everything I could," he said.

    "We heard stories tonight about other people who had had those same types of moments. It was emotional, and it was Parliament and our democracy at its best.

    "It showed how Parliament can and should be."

    A 19th century classical building with columns

    Late on Wednesday night MPs went through the 117 clauses, scrutinising the finer details and debating amendments.

    One of the amendments would allow private hospitals to exercise conscientious objection to euthanasia and instead refer patients seeking the procedure to other institutions.

    Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas supported the amendment and said contemplating the bill had weighed on him in recent months.

    "It is a subject, quite frankly … I personally have struggled with," he said.

    If the amended bill is endorsed by the Upper House it will go to the Governor for royal assent.

    After that, the new laws are expected to come into effect within 18 to 24 months.

    Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania have already made voluntary assisted dying legal.

    SA's legislation, which is modelled on Victoria's laws, includes over 70 safeguards and has been described as among the most conservative in the world.

    Eligible patients must be 18 year or over, an Australian citizen and have lived in South Australia for at least one year.

    They must have a terminal condition deemed to cause intolerable suffering and expected to cause death within weeks or months.

    The process requires approval by two separate doctors within a prescribed time frame.

Better Off Dead

 – Andrew Denton

Season 2

Andrew Denton investigates the stories behind Victoria’s landmark Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) law: Who seeks to use it, and why? Who are the doctors stepping forward to help them? And how does the Church continue to resist a law it describes as ‘evil’? 

Listen to Season 1 »

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