The Legal and Social Issues Committee received the terms of reference for the Inquiry into end of life choices from the Legislative Council on 30 May 2015. The Report is a culmination of the Committee’s extensive research and consultation process.

During the Inquiry the Committee received 1037 submissions, 925 from individuals in a private capacity and 112 from organisations. The overwhelming majority of individual submissions discussed assisted dying. Only a small number focused solely on palliative care.

The Committee also conducted an extensive program of site visits and public hearings around Victoria between July 2015 and February 2016. The Committee held 17 days of public hearings and heard from 154 witnesses.

In addition, the Committee travelled to the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Canadian province of Québec, Canada and Oregon, United States to speak to stakeholders about their jurisdiction’s assisted dying framework. Each of these jurisdictions has a unique legal framework permitting assisted dying.

Key findings:

  • As a society, we are hesitant to talk about death, which is considered a taboo subject. This inhibits planning for end of life care, and may result in a person’s end of life wishes not being followed.
  • Demand for palliative care is steadily increasing, and is expected to continue to do so. At the same time, palliative care patients’ diseases and needs have increased in complexity. As such, Victoria’s palliative care sector is overburdened and needs better support from government.
  • Despite Victoria having good palliative care services available, those who could benefit the most often receive care too late.
  • Everyone’s end of life care needs differ. It is important that Victoria has a system in place to cater for the needs of individuals, whilst ensuring that there are safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people.
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