Calvary’s response to Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation
Calvary’s care for people as they approach the end of their lives
Calvary has a long and proud tradition of providing quality, compassionate health care to the most vulnerable in our community.
Our mission focuses on healing and accompanying the dying.
Palliative care is essential to Calvary’s mission. We seek to make people feel welcome, heard and cared for, whatever their experience and situation.
Calvary’s palliative services include commitments to:
- heal and never to harm.
- relieve pain and other physical and psycho-social symptoms of illness and frailty.
- withdraw life-prolonging treatments when they are futile or overly burdensome, or when a person wants them withdrawn and gives informed refusal of these treatments.
- never abandon patients, residents, clients or their families.
Calvary’s focus is providing holistic, supportive care to people approaching their end of life, and support for their families and loved ones, so that they can live the fullest lives possible.
Calvary provides patient-centred palliative and supportive care for people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness in our Hospitals, Aged Care & Home Care services.
End of life care includes physical, spiritual and psycho-social assessment, care and treatment delivered by health professionals and supporting staff. It also includes supporting families and carers, and care of the person’s body after their death.
People are ‘approaching the end of life’ when they are likely to die within the next 12 months. This includes people whose death is imminent (expected within a few hours or days) and people with:
• advanced, progressive, incurable conditions.
• general frailty and co-existing conditions, meaning they are expected to die within 12 months.
• existing conditions; if they are at risk of dying from a sudden acute crisis in their condition.
• life-threatening acute conditions caused by sudden catastrophic events.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-limiting illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psycho-social and spiritual.
• aims to enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness; is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.
• provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms.
• affirms life and regards dying as a normal.
• integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.
• offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death.
• offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients’ illness and in their own bereavement.
• uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated.
Calvary’s response to Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation
Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation has come into effect in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales (28th November 2023).
Calvary does not support euthanasia, assisted suicide or voluntary assisted dying, nor do we recognise these interventions as medical treatments.
- Calvary does not facilitate or participate in assessments undertaken for the purpose of accessing or making use of the interventions allowed under Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, nor does Calvary administer (or facilitate the administration of) a substance for the same purpose.
- As a result, Calvary cannot provide these services to patients, residents or clients.
Calvary does, in alignment with the principles set out in the Spirit of Calvary, respond openly, sensitively and respectfully (that is, without discrimination) to anyone within our care who expresses a wish to explore or consider Voluntary Assisted Dying.
- Calvary staff actively listen to and accompany any person who wishes to talk about the end of their life.
- We do not abandon people when they most need to talk or when they most need care.
- We do not impede people from accessing Voluntary Assisted Dying nor do we deny medical care and treatment to any person who chooses Voluntary Assisted Dying.
Calvary’s position statement on euthanasia, assisted suicide or Voluntary Assisted Dying
Calvary’s position on Voluntary Assisted Dying aligns with our mission to bring the healing ministry of Jesus to those who are sick, dying and in need through ‘being for others.’ This is in alignment with our values of Hospitality, Healing, Stewardship and Respect and the Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services in Australia.1
Catholic health and aged care services are committed to the ethic of healing, the ethic which is found in both the longstanding Hippocratic tradition of medical practice and the longstanding Christian tradition of providing care, especially for poor and vulnerable people.2
The features of this ethic as it pertains to those who have a life-limiting illness and/or are nearing the end of their lives include commitments: to heal and never to harm; to relieve pain and other physical and psycho-social symptoms of illness and frailty; to withdraw life-prolonging treatments when they are futile or overly burdensome or when a person wants them withdrawn and gives informed refusal of these treatments; and to never abandon patients.
1Catholic Health Australia, Code of Ethical Standards for Catholic Health and Aged Care Services in Australia (Deakin West: Catholic Health Australia, 2001), Part 2, no. 1.13; 1.14; 1.15; 1.16; 5.21.
2Catholic Health Australia, Excellence in end of life care: A Restatement of Core Principles Revision of 5-10-18
Calvary parliamentary submissions and position statements
- Calvary Position Statement: Euthanasia, Physician Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Assisted Dying | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Letter to the Tasmanian Premier – End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Letter to the Tasmanian MLAs – End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: University of Tasmania Independent Review – End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Response to ACT Voluntary Assisted Dying Discussion Paper, April 2023 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Select Committee on End of Life Choices in the ACT | PDF
Letter to Senators
- Calvary Position Statement: NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 | PDF
- Calvary Position Statement: Letter to Members of the Legislative Assembly | PDF
Calvary Response to Questions
- Response to Supplementary Question One from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Supplementary Question Two Hughes from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Supplementary Question Two and Five from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Supplementary Question Three Hughes from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Supplementary Question Three and Six from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Supplementary Question Four Hughes from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Response to Question on Notice from Upper House Inquiry | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Select Committee End Of Life Choices | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Concerns Regarding the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Letter to South Australian MHAs, 10 May 2021 – Concerns Regarding the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Letter to South Australian MHAs, 26 May 2021 – Concerns Regarding the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 | PDF
- Calvary Submission: Letter to The Hon Stephen Wade MLC, South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing, 6 June 2021 | PDF