Letters to the editor - November 3

Assisted dying backing

I support Dr Noel Bayley's views (The Standard, October 28). While palliative care can and does provide relief for many in their last days or weeks, a small percentage of deaths are painful and unnecessarily distressing. I have experienced this with the death of a loved one. Thank you Dr Bayley for giving a rational comment that might assist our decision makers to vote yes.

Ron Quick, Warrnambool

Thanks Dr Bayley

I would like to add my thanks to those of Dr Noel Bayley and to our local members of parliament for their efforts in the difficult matter of the voluntary assisted dying bill. However I would suggest that this complicated issue currently before the Victorian Upper House has taken the focus away from the more relevant question. “How do we support everyone to have their choices respected at the end of life?” This is really at the heart of why this bill is so difficult. We want to have choice in our destiny and none of us want a ‘bad death’. So everyone debating this bill is trying to reduce the suffering of patients, families and health professionals. We are all trying to achieve this from different perspectives based on our unique experiences. We need to respect the aim even if we don’t agree with the method. My personal and professional experience as a GP of 10 years with a passion for providing community based end of life care has taught me many things. I don’t want my answer to a question of access to palliative services to be “that depends on your postcode”. Until there is equity in access to palliative care across Victoria, this bill is unsafe, unjust and does not provide the real choice that is the intention of the legislation. If the bill is passed in the current form, terminally ill Victorians, especially in rural and regional areas, will have a ‘choice’ of limited or no specialist palliative care or voluntary assisted dying. The fear that patient’s choices will not be respected at the end of life is very real in my experience. However, Victorians already have legislation that protects their choices. The new Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 comes into effect in March 2018 but there has been barely an audible murmur about this beneath the media monster that the assisted dying bill has become. I feel deeply for MPs who have, as we all have, experienced great loss and pain. The memories and experience of the death becomes the truth of those left behind and it is not our place to question that. We should be supporting the bereaved in their grief not pushing forward with legislation based more on personal experiences rather than evidence-based medicine. A compounded medication administered without a doctor present does nothing to address the symptom control of the dying patient or the preparatory grief of the soon to be bereaved families. I can see a time in the future where debating euthanasia would be a possibility for our society. But it is not now. Debating euthanasia before ensuring that regional and rural Victorians have the same support and access as metropolitan Victorians to palliative care is simply wrong. 

Dr Claire Hepper, Springmount 

Remove ‘good death’ stigma

Euthanasia is a controversial and often highly emotive topic. Much of the resistance to discussing the euthanasia story is often rooted in strong cultural and/or religious pressures or dogmas. People on both sides of the euthanasia spectrum understandably hold quite strong views and feelings in regards to the topic. The origin of the word ‘euthanasia’ is from the Greek language meaning ‘good death’ rather than just the often mooted meaning of the deliberate ending of life. Coming from a veterinary perspective I can say one of the privileges of being a veterinarian is to be in a position to alleviate unnecessary suffering by being able to offer the option to people of euthanasia for their pets that are in terrible pain and suffering with no realistic hope of recovery. Obviously however there are many more dimensions to euthanasia when we look at it from the human perspective as opposed to the euthanasia of animals. Best practice palliative care ought to be available as the standard of care for the treatment of pain and suffering for all of us at the end of our life. Currently in Australia euthanasia (‘a good death’) is essentially valid via the administration of pain killing medications as long as the intent is to achieve the relief of pain and suffering as opposed to the deliberate ending of life even if death intervenes before pain relief occurs. For many people this process satisfies their final wishes as to how they would like their life to end. I believe we need to more publicly acknowledge this as a valid option for people and try to take away some of the ‘hiding’ or stigma that is still attached to this valid form of euthanasia or ‘good death’. For some others however there is still the wish to end their suffering permanently. I believe society needs to respect and honour the wishes of those few people who choose to take this path.  Human history is littered with many examples of where our citizens have had their freedoms curtailed or dictated to them by those in power. Arranged marriages, slavery, women not being allowed to vote, outlawing of same sex relationships, racial and religious discrimination, etc are all examples of how as we have evolved as a society we have recognised that the just path is for people to make their own choices in life as opposed to having their choices dictated to them by a select few in power so long as those choices are also respectful towards the rest of society. Obviously when our community and those in power are ready to acknowledge the will and respect the dignity to freely choose our final path in life, especially for those of us who are travelling the arduous path of dying with immense suffering attached, there would need to be many stringent safeguards put in place. I hope some day soon all people in our community have the option of freely choosing their own final path in life.

Michael  McCluskey, Warrnambool

Positive outcome

I refer to the front page headline The Standard, October 28. Many in the community will see the Saputo buy out of Murray Goulburn as a positive outcome. There is no doubt that the Murray Goulburn Business is in serious financial difficulty. Many loyal suppliers and supporters have been adversely affected. State and national representative groups for farmers have not expressed any concern the proposed sale of MG to Saputo will increase foreign control of Australia’s industry. From an outsider’s perspective Saputo’s purchase of Warrnambool Cheese and Butter has been very positive. WCB products and brands are still readily available. Saputo has shown commitment to the industry and local community by investing heavily at the Allansford plant. They have also committed to a higher farm gate price for MG suppliers and additional incentives for those suppliers still supplying MG. Of course it is disappointing that the MG cooperative business model will disappear. However all businesses operating in a global community are subject to buyout/ takeovers.The dairy industry drives the local community, and it is well known that when the dairy industry thrives,the whole community benefits. Of course we will have to wait and see the whether Saputo offer is accepted. Negative articles in the media will do little to help anyone’s cause.

 Andrew Gapes, Illowa.

Saleyards support

I note with interest the annual saleyard through put numbers from Meat And Livestock Australia.These figures show that Warrnambool has increased its ranking to third in our own state and 11th (pushing toward 9th and 10th in the entire country. My comment is toward my fellow farmers and commercial traders of Warrnambool; don't let this prized asset slip through our hands through lack of patronage in the coming selling season. The saleyards together with our mighty Midfield enterprises, dairy support and associated sectors are a prized and growing sector of our local Warrnambool economic community. The saleyard is an asset we cannot afford to lose. Ignore it and it will drift away.

 Garry O'Donnell, Grassmere

Thank you Warrnambool

Recently, whilst 1.5 weeks into a 4-week road trip through NSW and Victoria and at Peterborough, my husband suddenly took ill and needed to undergo emergency bowel surgery at the Warrnambool Base Hospital. With no prior warning, he had to be rushed by ambulance (Mick and Jo) from Peterborough to Warrnambool. Within 24 hours he had undergone major bowel surgery and so began our two-week stay in Warrnambool. To the people of Warrnambool, we say thank you. We're sure you are aware of the amazing and exceptional staff you have at the hospital and we will be forever grateful. We will continue to sing your praises (as we have already done) to anyone who wants to listen. Thank you to Craig (taxi driver) who took me back to Peterborough to collect our camper van, who drove back to Warrnambool doing 90 km/h so I could follow him and who led me into a city I was not familiar with and found me a caravan park. Thank you Dr Mooney, Dr Namen (& assistants), thank you to the ED staff Emily, Annie and Aaron (we know there were others but don't recall their names), what champions you are. Thank you to the staff at the Acute Care Unit, to all the nurses, day and night, the physio, nutritionist and the administration staff in that unit. Thank you to the ladies in the shop (Beth and Danielle).  Our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you, you saved my husband's life and made a traumatic experience easier to cope with because of your skill, knowledge and kindness. To the wonderful citizens of Warrnambool.  You are so kind and generous, from the smiles, the how are yous (bet you were sorry you asked that question!), the gesundheit when I sneezed, the fabulous local and proper show. I could go on and on but there are not enough characters here so we just want to say thank-you from two very grateful North Queenslanders. We will revisit and hopefully under very different circumstances.

Ian and Catherine Mains, Woodstock, North Queensland

Co-op belief

Back in November 2013, United Dairyfarmers’ Victoria and a particular person were under fire from farmers presenting an information night by Dr John Hauser about the positive role co-operatives play in our dairy industry. I spoke up and supported them. Just recently they showed me their true colours. Always stand up for what you believe in. Good on every MG supplier who truly valued the co-op.

Larissa Gardiner, Tyrendarra

Time for change

Labor's criticism of Liberal's spending $65 billion on the big end of town is confirmed by NAB's latest business plan announcement. Another 4000 job losses over the next three years. This just after another record $6.6 billion cash profit - not a loss. It's no great secret to all Australians that the rich are getting much richer, whilst the poor are getting much poorer. I do congratulate, not criticise, the millionaires of our country. I'm sure they still consider they still live in the "lucky country". To all the others out there whom I know are struggling, all I can offer once again is "it's time".

Jack Patterson, Warrnambool

Great read

It was most appreciated your article on long serving Cr. Geoff White, The Standard, October 28. When along with other articles on long serving councillors, it is with much thanks. The entire community owes much thanks to our long serving civic representatives.

James Judd, Colac