Page 2955 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013
rich mosaic to their work with the dying. Currently there are 135 volunteers, and I acknowledge that Jon Stanhope was a previous president of what was then called the Palliative Care Society. I declare a conflict of interest—I am also a member of Palliative Care ACT. The volunteers undertake comprehensive training that provides them with the knowledge, the confidence and the compassion to care for the dying.
I also acknowledge the amazing compassionate work done by the staff at Clare Holland House. Clare Holland House is a hospice serving the ACT and the region. It was subject to a great deal of interest a few years ago when there was debate about the ownership of that organisation, and all of us in this Assembly probably became far more aware of the role of Clare Holland House, and it is an important role.
Clare Holland House is under the management of the Little Company of Mary Healthcare. It is fully funded by the ACT government, and I commend the government for that. The environment is made as much like a home as is possible where families can remain close and are encouraged to participate in care and decision making. People are admitted into Clare Holland House for a number of reasons. Sometimes complex symptoms are best managed by a medical person for a short time and, once settled, people can return home. I acknowledge that palliative care in the home is very important as well. It is not just a matter of dying in an institution; for many people dying in their homes is the best outcome, and I acknowledge that the ACT government has invested in supporting palliative care in the home setting as well.
Palliative Care ACT provides volunteers at Clare Holland House. That is a collaborative effort, and that is great. Many of us who have visited Clare Holland House would have seen the labyrinth that overlooks Lake Burley Griffin. It is a garden setting that complements the nearby environment, meditation and healing garden which was established by the Canberra Interfaith Forum. Its paths are suitable for wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Because of its location adjacent to bike paths and the lake, the general community is also encouraged to walk the labyrinth. It is a beautiful setting at Clare Holland House, and I know a number of us would have known individuals, friends and family members who have experienced the end of their lives in that establishment and would know firsthand the fantastic care they got.
I look forward to the government’s response to the report. I hope this is an area where we can, as far as possible, maintain a bipartisan approach. It is an important discussion to have and continue to have in our community. I made those comments about euthanasia not to in any way try and step away from the debate, because I think it should be open. But I think putting that debate to the side and saying it is not something we will pursue in the Assembly, it is not something we are advocating for at any level, will allow us to have a more open debate about end of life without people who are necessarily pro or anti-euthanasia turning it into a euthanasia debate. I commend Ms Porter for bringing this motion to the Assembly. It has the support of the opposition.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.24): I would also like to thank Ms Porter for raising this issue today. It is one which is also of great importance to the Greens. The Greens would like Canberra to be a place which is more respectful of and responsive to its ageing population’s aspirations and needs. The Greens also want to ensure that ageing Canberrans have the best quality of life that we can provide in their later years.