Eyre Peninsula supporter welcomes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill vote

SUPPORT: Supporters of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill gathered for the Candles for Compassion vigil on May 26. Photo: Roy Vandervegt
SUPPORT: Supporters of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill gathered for the Candles for Compassion vigil on May 26. Photo: Roy Vandervegt

Supporters of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020, including those on Eyre Peninsula, are celebrating after the South Australian Lower House voted to pass the bill on Wednesday night.

The bill passed through with a 33 to 11 vote, which means South Australia is on track to become the fourth state to allow end of life choices for the terminally ill.

Co-sponsored by Member of Legislative Council Kyam Maher and Member of Parliament Susan Close, the bill is the 17th to be presented to state parliament in 26 years.

The news has been welcomed by supporters of the bill across the state, including Liz Habermann of Wudinna who has been vocal in her support of the bill and attended the Candles for Compassion vigil on May 26.

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Mrs Habermann has supported the cause since her 19-year-old son Rhys Habermann took his own life in January, 2017 following an 18-month battle with cancer.

She said the news had been "surreal" and it would be able to provide so many with a choice going forward.

"It's amazing, but bittersweet too because Rhys could've certainly benefit from it but there are more to come who will benefit from it and their families, it's pretty cool for them to have that choice," she said.

Member for Flinders Peter Treloar chaired the committee stage of the bill, which lasted more than five hours as the 115 clauses contained in the bill were debated.

Some members also put forward amendments for consideration, some of which were agreed to by the committee.

Mr Treloar said he supported the bill this time and was comfortable with how it came out.

SURREAL: Liz Habermann, who attended the Candles for Compassion vigil, welcomed news of the bill's passage in the Lower House. Photo: Roy Vandervegt

SURREAL: Liz Habermann, who attended the Candles for Compassion vigil, welcomed news of the bill's passage in the Lower House. Photo: Roy Vandervegt

"I sensed overwhelming support for such legislation within our community - and this Bill has significant safeguards contained within it," he said.

"I'm comfortable that it's the best it can be.

"It certainly was a significant moment in this State's history, and an honour to play a role in the Parliamentary debate."

The legislation is set to return to the Upper House for final approval on amendments, with supporters calling for a swift passage.

There is also a call for implementation measures in line with other states, such as a phase-in period of no more than 18 months and the appointment of a review board and care navigators who help guide patients and families through the process.

Mrs Habermann said once in place this legislation would help families avoid what her family went through in 2017.

"The suicide rate of people with a terminal illness is staggering...they ended their pain but the pain their family goes through is horrible," she said.

"If they had the choice to die peacefully with family around them without them being implicated in their death, it's a huge thing for SA and for greater Australia."

For crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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