By Jolene Ogle
A single word served-up on Monday night’s Q&A has lit up social media and national newspapers with discussions of voluntary euthanasia, with the outcry reaching all the way to Noosaville.
The panel was discussing euthanasia when audience member Ron Fellows, 90, and his wife Patricia, 81, said they have decided to not enter an aged care facility and will instead end their own lives “when the time comes”.
The Fellowses went head-to-head with panel member and ethicist Margaret Somerville, who argued that death affects family members and the community.
Mrs Fellow responded with a single loaded word – “bullshit” – and Dying with Dignity Queensland president and Noosaville resident Sharon Tregoning couldn’t agree more.
As well as heading the Dying with Dignity Queensland branch, Ms Tregoning also operates Spiritual Palliative Care throughout the shire and said many of her clients were supportive of euthanasia.
“There are two main things they tell me. Firstly, just having the legislation in place has a real palliative affect because they know there is something there just in case they need it. It’s about comfort. With a ‘plan b’ in place, they can live more fully,” she said.
“Secondly, in the end by having the Act in place, they don’t have to worry that if they want to have their loved ones around that they’re going to be subject to police investigation.”
In 2015, Noosa MP Glen Elmes conducted a shire-wide survey on many issues including voluntary euthanasia. The survey found 79 per cent of participants would support voluntary euthanasia.
In light of these results, Mr Elmes has previously said he would support a Bill that had been “carefully considered with stringent guards in place”, but a Bill is yet to be presented to Parliament for consideration.
Nicklin MP and Speaker of the House Peter Wellington’s call for an End of Life Choices inquiry failed earlier this year when the Queensland Parliamentary Health Committee couldn’t reach an agreement on whether or not to proceed with the discussion.
Ms Tregoning said Queensland continued to lag behind other states by refusing to even discuss voluntary euthanasia.
“It’s important we talk about it,” she said. “We’ve always lagged behind, but we’re getting there if we can talk about it.”
Ms Tregoning is also an advocate for the campaign Death Over Dinner, which encourages families and friends to discuss their end of life plans and wishes over a casual dinner.
“It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom,” she said. “Grab a beer, make some dinner and have a chat.”
Ms Tregoning said Mr Elmes’ survey results show the majority of the community support voluntary euthanasia and need to share their views with their local MP.
For anyone interested in learning more about the Dying with Dignity group, a public meeting will be held at the CWA Hall in Maroochydore, opposite the Maroochydore RSL, on Wednesday 19 April, from 2pm. Cr Wellington will be in attendance.