State Government “not concerned” about voluntary assisted dying access in Mid West, regional WA

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Mary-Ellen Passmore is the State's second known voluntary assisted dying patient.
Camera IconMary-Ellen Passmore is the State's second known voluntary assisted dying patient. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

The number of practitioners in the Mid West registered for Voluntary Assisted Dying training has not changed since the legislation came into effect one month ago.

But Member for Morley Amber-Jade Sanderson — who chaired a parliamentary committee into end-of-life-choices — has assured country residents they will not have to travel to the city to receive medical help to end their lives.

Just two practitioners from the Mid West had registered for the mandatory training as of last week — the same number as registered in the weeks before VAD became legal in WA.

The data was supplied by WA Health after Wongi-Yamatji woman Mary-Ellen Passmore on Thursday became the second person in the State to end their life through voluntary assisted dying.

Ms Passmore, who grew up about 150km south of Geraldton in Three Springs, was the eldest of seven and spent a career in the public service working in education and mental health.

She served as treasurer of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care.

In 2015, Ms Passmore was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, a progressive condition which attacks nerve cells, gradually robbing sufferers of the ability to move, speak, swallow and breathe. Ms Passmore’s death came a day after the first West Australian also ended their life through VAD.

Ms Sanderson said the State Government was confident Mid West residents would be able to access VAD from their home towns. “The scheme is designed to be a slow build and we have confidence there are enough doctors to deal with the volume of people who are applying now,” she said.

“We are not concerned about access ... but we are watching it very closely.”

At least one nurse practitioner in the Mid West has registered for the training, with Ms Sanderson saying this was important in regions where GPs were scarce.

“This is a very important difference with other jurisdictions in Australia that nurse practitioners are empowered under the legislation to do the training and administer voluntary assisted dying when necessary,” she said.

Mary-Ellen Passmore with her children Chontall Edwards, Challan Edwards and Charleton Skelly
Camera IconMary-Ellen Passmore with her children Chontall Edwards, Challan Edwards and Charleton Skelly Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

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