Submission on Exposure draft of the Medical Services (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2014

COTA welcomes the opportunity to provide comment to the Committee on this exposure draft.

Within COTA, at the national and State and Territory levels there have been many debates on the issues around voluntary euthanasia. It is an issue which often comes up in discussions with older people. It is interesting to note that when the then Minister for Mental Health and Ageing undertook his national series of conversations with older people about aged care in 2011 the issue of voluntary euthanasia was raised at most of them.

Some of the State and Territory COTAs have been active participants in discussions around advanced health directives, end of life care and voluntary euthanasia, seeing their role as one of facilitating community discussion on these issues. We went out to all the State and Territory COTAs asking them for their views on the legislation and their comments are included in this submission.

After much deliberation COTA has decided that it will take a neutral position on the issue. We know that there are divergent views on this issue across the COTA membership and the older population more generally and have decided that it is a matter of personal conscience.

For that reason we are not commenting on whether or not the Commonwealth should legislate on this issue but rather looking at the principles that should be applied if there were to be agreement to have such legislation and how the legislation proposed meets those principles.