Sara Westcott. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Sara Westcott. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Calls to significantly change assisted dying laws

AFTER watching both parents suffer through horrible illness, Ipswich woman Sara Westcott hopes to see significant changes to Queensland's assisted dying laws.

Queensland Parliament's Health Committee on voluntary assisted dying laws is expected to present its findings before the end of March, with people like Ipswich resident Sara Westcott hoping for legislation to follow soon after.

Voluntary assisted dying is illegal in Queensland, with Victoria the only state in Australia to allow it after passing legislation in 2017.

Western Australia will follow Victoria's example soon, with VAD laws to be enacted by the middle of 2021.

In 1999 Ms Westcott' mother, Hazel Westcott, took her own life after suffering with cancer.

"There was a time when she was optimistic but when she knew it wasn't going to change, she soon faced the reality of the end and the inevitability of it all," Ms Westcott said.

"She knew it would just end in death, and there was no way her life would continue."

Ms Westcott's mother tried to commit suicide twice during her battle with cancer.

Ms Westcott's father, Barry Westcott, suffered from mesothelioma and also tried to commit suicide in 2010.

"In the end he took an overdose and was restless all night and I called an ambulance," Ms Westcott said.

"He was then admitted to palliative care in Ipswich and he lasted a couple of days and that was it," she said.

"I believe he had in fact speeded up his demise, but it was not pleasant."

Data from the National Coronial Information System showed that each month an average of seven people with a terminal illness took their own lives in Queensland.

Ms Westcott is adamant that her parents were very aware of their predicament and ultimately would have been better off if they were given the opportunity to die voluntarily.

Now that Sara is 67, she hopes the laws will change soon.

"The older I get the more I hope the laws change so that if something ever happens to me, I have all my options available," she said.

President of Queensland's' Dying With Dignity advocacy group, Jos Hall, said the issue needed to be legislated for sooner rather than later.

"It needs be legislated before the next election. It doesn't make any sense if the current government requests a committee to investigate it and then doesn't do anything about it," Ms Hall said.

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