Australian states and territories must not cast aside palliative care in favour of a state-sanctioned assisted suicide regime as has occurred in Victoria today, warns the Australian Christian Lobby.

“The passing of state-sanctioned assisted suicide in the Victorian upper house today, with the blessing of the Andrews Government, highlights how easy it is for Governments to be enticed by a culture of death rather than tackle inadequacies in the Government’s handling of palliative care,” ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said.

Palliative Care Victoria and palliative care providers have expressed alarm at the inadequate funding to care for the elderly and vulnerable, yet their voices have been ignored.

“The state-sanctioned assisted suicide legislation will be introduced against the backdrop of a spike in elder abuse, and an increase in lonely and isolated patients in Victoria’s aged care facilities.

“Some 40 per cent of the 60,000 people in aged care facilities do not get a visit in a year, may face great loneliness and could be triggered to choose the option of assisted dying when so much more could have been done,” Mr Shelton said.

“Palliative Care Victoria estimates that 10,000 Victorians a year die without adequate palliative care.

“The dismal existence for many vulnerable Australians is the real issue that needs to be addressed both in Victoria and other states by providing adequate palliative care. 

“Euthanasia is an easy, cheap and dangerous way out of addressing palliative care funding while risking the lives of vulnerable people.

“Victorian parliamentarians have taken a backward and dangerous step today that should be rejected by all other jurisdictions,” Mr Shelton said.