The Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign visited Victor Harbor this month

Part of the crowd that attended the Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign held in Victor Harbor this month.
Part of the crowd that attended the Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign held in Victor Harbor this month.

On Saturday, December 5 at the Hotel Victor the Voluntary Assisted Dying campaign visited Victor Harbor and more than 30 people attended.

Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) spokesperson Angie Miller said the feedback and support was just incredible.

"It was a true representation of the 85 per cent of the community who support VAD. We had a strong turn and vocal turn out from the Christian Community, including a former minister," Angie said.

"We also had nurses who attended and spoke of the unnecessary suffering they have witnessed and how they are the ones who bare witness. Many, if not most who attended the meeting in Victor were absolutely furious at the result in 2016 when the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was knocked back by one vote.

"We had people standing up venting their frustration and wanting to be heard. Many people who attended have been long term supporters and advocates of this issue. Sadly, some of these people have significant health issues and are acutely aware of how important this legislation is."

During the meeting attendee Kym Watson stated "even though I will never get to use voluntary assisted dying, I will now advocate for it so that others do not have to endure suffering at the end of their life".

Some of the people who attended are now so motivated that they are now going on to hold their own meetings.

The VAD message is to give people the option of a compassionate end of life experience and to avoid unnecessary suffering.

The campaign includes increasing funding for Palliative care, to promote Advanced Care Directives and the implementation of Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation for terminally ill people.

"This is necessary as the suffering of 5 to 10 per cent of palliative care patients can not be alleviated," Angie said.

Anne Bunning from the South Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Susie Byrne from the SA Nurses Supporting Choices in Dying and Angie Miller have been travelling to regional SA since early September.

They began in Mount Gambier and have been to Port Augusta, Waikerie, the Barossa Valley and Mount Barker.

"We get requests from all over the state including Port Lincoln, Clare and Murray Bridge to come and hold meetings," she said.

"We know that there is a strong supporter base in Victor Harbor and we need local MP David Basham to be aware of how strong the support is.

"We also want to make people aware that the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020, the 17th of it's kind, has been introduced into Parliament and to encourage people to start writing to David Basham and expressing their support."

David Basham was invited, but due to a prior engagement he did not attend.

Angie has deep motivation due to witnessing first hand the unnecessary suffering of a terminally ill person.

"I watched my Dad's suffering at the end of his battle with bladder cancer, that he fought hard against. My Dad had allergies to traditional pain relief and the medication that most suited him made him incredibly drowsy," Angie said.

"Not only did he still continue to suffer from significant pain from his cancer, but the complications from the cancer and his motionless body was what caused the most problems. This included a bowel obstruction and urinary tract infection.

"During his suffering at home, where he wanted to die, he made requests to palliative care nurses for assistance to end his life. They were denied. He then attempted to starve himself twice.

"He ultimately got a blood clot and I called the ambulance. While waiting for the ambulance Dad said 'this is a blessing in disguise as it will finish me off quicker.' He even asked the paramedics to terminally sedate him.

"At the hospital the doctors intervened to give him a more comfortable death. He again asked for assistance to end his life and again it was denied. He even requested to be moved to Victoria to access VAD, but was told this would not be possible.

"At the same meeting he said 'if I had a knife on this table in front of me I would take it and push it through my heart'. With the complications only growing on 11/12/2018 my Dad's morphine was increased and he died.

"I know that if a voluntary assisted dying legislation existed my Dad's suffering could have been avoided."

Angie want to see Ia more compassionate society where death is looked on as something that can be beautiful and not feared. But first and foremost is for the terminally ill to have a peaceful death of their choosing and that they have complete control over it.

With the passing of legislation in Victoria and WA, and possibly in Tasmania and Queensland and New South Wales looking to introduce legislation the momentum toward VAD has shifted greatly over the whole country.

"I do not want South Australian's to be left out of this basic human right. I ask our politicians to look at the evidence coming from other jurisdictions proving that VAD is a safe alternative to suffering. I am firm in the belief that a no to VAD is most certainly a yes to harm," Angie said.