Page 2949 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

End-of-life issues

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (10.00): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) that, with an ageing population in the ACT, there is a pressing need to start and sustain a conversation, both in the general community and amongst health professionals, regarding end of life issues;

(b) that as part of the 2013 Budget, the Government included $1.2 million in funding to increase community awareness and uptake of advanced care plans;

(c) that on 4 May 2013 the ACT Local Hospital Network Council held an End of Life Issues and Decision-Making Forum, as part of its community engagement strategy, that produced a report with six recommendations;

(d) that the Government will soon release its Palliative Care Services Plan 2013-2017, which will provide strategic direction for the continued development of palliative care services in the ACT, now and into the future; and

(e) the need to ensure that there is an informed and open debate in the community on the need to provide all citizens with the right to die with dignity; and

(2) calls on the Government to continue raising end of life, palliative care and advanced care planning as issues for community discussion and action.

In recent weeks and days, the ACT community has begun to speak with greater openness and maturity about death and the process of dying. It is a sad part of life but it is inevitable. It happens to everyone. And it is in the interests of the entire community—those of us who are older, those with chronic or life threatening illness, carers, families—and the health system itself that we create a more open culture of talking about the end of life.

My own experiences of some years ago, watching my mother die in a four-bed ward in an aged care facility, with no palliative care available, and no choice, and more recently being with my husband and his family while we sat with his father, thankfully afforded palliative care, have influenced my thinking. This has certainly motivated me to ensure that a positive conversation about end of life is initiated in the ACT.

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