Euthanasia in Tasmania - Assisted suicide in Tasmania - Dying with Dignity in Tasmania

Medical viewpoints
Viewpoints from eminent Tasmanians...
Medical viewpoints

Tasmanian doctors and specialists refute the claim that euthanasia is already occurring and clear up misconceptions around patient choice, pain management and dying

Written article

Tasmanian Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

Member organisation of Palliative Care Australia

Submission to the Enquiry into the Dying with Dignity Bill 2009



The Secretary,
Joint Standing Committee on Community Development,
Parliament House,
Hobart, 7000.



Dear Sir / Madam,

Re: Dying with Dignity Bill 2009

The Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care was established in 1996 to foster the progression of Hospice and Palliative Care in Tasmania. It is a member organisation of Palliative Care Australia and it agrees with and subscribes to the aims of Palliative Care Australia.

The organisation is composed of health workers, volunteers and individuals who believe that the care of the dying is important work and the majority of our work over the past decade has been to foster learning and education on the care of the dying.

The Board of the Association has met and believes that the Dying with Dignity Bill 2009 is not appropriate legislation for the people of Tasmania and wish to lodge the Board's objection to the passage of this bill.

The Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care believe that dying it is a part of life. We do not believe that the practice of palliative care includes the deliberate ending of life through voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide even at the patient's request.

We are aware of that within the community there is a broad acceptance of the need for euthanasia but we are concerned that the debate is not informed and that the calls for euthanasia may well be on the background of misinformation and fear.

Much community interest in voluntary euthanasia is sparked by the need for assurance that pain and suffering will be relieved and the individual's end of life decisions will be respected. Many of these community fears can be addressed through the provision of quality care at the end of life that includes the opportunity for an individual to articulate care preferences for circumstances in which they may no longer be able to express their wishes.

Informed discussion about euthanasia is hindered by our failure as a society to guarantee access to quality care at the end of life in which our rights to articulate the terms of our care are respected.

Across Tasmania we are aware that resourcing for palliative care varies from area to area. The standard of palliative care provision in Tasmania is very high but the access to palliative care services is limited by the level of resourcing of the services.

There was a major review of palliative care services in 2004 which the government of the day signed off on. Some sections of this review had been implemented but it is fair to say the majority of the review remains unimplemented at this time.

We believe that the problems of the dying will not be solved by the institution of a law that allows them to avail themselves of euthanasia. The Australian community needs to embark upon a dialogue about death and dying in order to accept the dying is a natural and expected part of life. We believe that engagement in advance care planning will greatly contribute to this dialogue.


Instead of a Dying with Dignity Bill, the Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care calls for the development of social policy that

  • Affirms death as part of life;

  • Actively supports those who are dying, their families and their carers;

  • Informs the Australian community about all aspects of quality care at end of life;

  • Accepts quality care at the end of life as a basic human right;

  • Allocate sufficient resources to enable access to quality end of life care (including specialist palliative care) for all.

Palliative Care Australia has a population based policy relating to provision of public services and this is recommended to the committee.

The Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care believes that our society needs to have a broader and informed debate about end of life care. There needs to be an alleviation of unnecessary fears that continue to frame the euthanasia debate. Our community requires politicians to look after their individual interests but also requires consideration of the wider society. The provision of exemplary palliative care services within Tasmania should be the goal of the Parliament not the passing of legislation to provide euthanasia.

Thank you for accepting our submission,

Yours sincerely,


Doctor Paul Dunne AM,
Vice President,
Tasmanian Association for Hospice and Palliative Care





Author bios

The Tasmanian Association for Hospice & Palliative Care Inc. is the peak representative body for hospice and palliative care in Tasmania.


TAHPC are affiliated to Palliative Care Australia, and two Tasmanian delegates attend PCA council meetings.

TAHPC works to:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of hospice and palliative care;

  • Provide information about services;

  • Support maintenance of best practice standards;

  • Support workers involved in the care of people who are dying;

  • Advocate for service provision and its future development;

  • Support clients and carers in accessing appropriate services.



Viewpoints on euthanasia and assisted suicide from eminent Tasmanians