Geraldton MP Lara Dalton backs voluntary assisted dying scheme based on personal experience

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Member for Geraldton Lara Dalto.
Camera IconMember for Geraldton Lara Dalto. Credit: Phoebe Pin

It is now legal for an eligible patient in WA to receive medical help to end their life, and Geraldton MP Lara Dalton says she knows all too well how devastating a difficult death can be, and how vital it is to have a choice.

Western Australia’s voluntary assisted dying legislation came into effect yesterday, meaning anyone who satisfies strict eligibility criteria can access medication that will cause their death.

Ms Dalton has been at the bedside of two brave women — one with pancreatic cancer, and one with a brain tumour — who experienced significant suffering before they died.

While her friends were “fighting to live” right until the end, Ms Dalton thought both would appreciate having voluntary assisted dying as an option.

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“I don’t know if they would have taken up the legislation, but I think they would have felt comforted by the fact they had the choice to if they wanted to,” she said.

“Having laid with both those women and knowing how painful that was and how hard that was ... it is traumatic for everyone.

“(One friend) was one of these people who liked to have carriage over her own wellbeing and she also made quite a few different choices with her treatment, so I think she would definitely have liked to have had the choice.”

Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton with Premier Mark McGowan.
Camera IconMember for Geraldton Lara Dalton with Premier Mark McGowan. Credit: Supplied

Ms Dalton said she would have voted in support of the voluntary assisted dying Bill had she been in Parliament at the time.

“I can really see how being able to make a choice would have given them a lot of comfort,” she said.

Ms Dalton said feedback from a community forum indicated many Geraldton residents also supported the legislation, while some were disappointed people with diagnoses such as dementia would not be eligible.

“Everyone at that forum was supportive of the legislation, and in fact, they wanted it to go further,” she said.

Voluntary assisted dying is intended to be used in conjunction with palliative care, an industry in which Ms Dalton said the McGowan Government had made significant investment.

While she recognised there was always room for improvement, Ms Dalton had nothing but praise for Mid West palliative care health professionals.

“I’m in awe of palliative care nurses and doctors who support families and support the person who is dying,” she said.

“I remember a friend of mine was a palliative care nurse and she said ‘one of the greatest gifts is to help somebody have a good death’. So as traumatic as it can be sometimes, they felt honoured to be able to be that person.”

Ms Dalton said it was essential that people who did not choose voluntary assisted dying had confidence they would receive palliative care “of the highest standard”.

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