Voluntary assisted dying on the agenda with retirees

Marshall Perron answers questions from the floor at the Bendigo Retirement Village on Friday.
Marshall Perron answers questions from the floor at the Bendigo Retirement Village on Friday.

The Bendigo Retirement Village hosted pro-voluntary assisted dying advocacy group Go Gentle Australia for a question and answer forum with former Northern Territory Chief Minister Marshall Perron on Friday.

Her daughter was with her the next day and she just went to sleep.

Sarah West

Resident Sarah West said Mr Perron, who passed similar legislation on euthanasia to that being considered by the Victorian parliament while in the top job in the Territory, encountered a largely receptive audience in Bendigo.

The 81-year-old said she had already written to Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, indicating her support for the bill after losing her sister to cancer.

“She was in Peter Mac hospital and so she was one that went gently,” she said.

“I wasn't aware of much of that sort of thing at the time because she's 12 years older than me but I know that she made her arrangements and we said goodbye the day before and her daughter was with her the next day and she just went to sleep.”

Ms West said her mind had also turned to her own eventual passing as time went on, as well as the unnecessary suffering of others who had not been as lucky as her sister.

“She went gently, gently and that was all fine, but there's so many out there now that are suffering in their private homes and nursing homes and it’s not happening,” she said.

“It does make me think, more so now, ‘Well yeah, I don’t want to suffer’, [but] I don’t want anyone suffering, it doesn't make sense that if you’re suffering with such an illness that you just have to lay there and suffer, it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Mr Perron said he was optimistic about the successful passage of legislation in Victoria, as well as its long-term prospects of avoiding a repeat of the federal government’s overturning of the legislation he passed while Chief Minister.

“The difference now is there’s 10 places elsewhere in the world where it’s legal so while the NT might have been seen to be being a bit, almost irresponsible, by going down this path, today it’s become a far more acceptable process, even though our legislation was very similar to the one being proposed here,” he said.