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Assisted dying laws pose a grave risk to the vulnerable

by Joel Hodge, The Age, 7 September 2017

Joel Hodge is a senior lecturer in the School of Theology at Australian Catholic University.

In a study of states with euthanasia law, published in Current Oncology, Dr J. Pereira writes that “laws and safeguards are regularly ignored and transgressed in all the jurisdictions and that transgressions are not prosecuted. For example, about 900 people annually are administered lethal substances without having given explicit consent, and in one jurisdiction, almost 50 per cent of cases of euthanasia are not reported.”

It is easy to underestimate the vulnerability of the elderly and dying, and the delicate human dynamics involved in caring for them. Whenever we are seriously ill, we are placed in a precarious position, heavily dependent on others and confronting all manner of fears.

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Why I’ll be voting no to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017

by Walt Secord, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2017

Walt Secord is NSW Shadow Health Minister for Health and Deputy Opposition leader in the NSW Legislative Council.

I saw first-hand the experiences of those in our nation’s nursing homes and how it was almost impossible – despite the best intentions – to protect the most vulnerable from manipulation and exploitation.

But on balance, I believe parliamentarians cannot codify legislation on how to end a human life.

It is not possible to put in place sufficient safeguards and protections to prevent abuses of these laws. And this is before we consider the invidious pressures of medical costs, financial burdens on families or the prospect of manipulation in regard to inheritances.

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Elder abuse on the rise in step with galloping property prices

by Graham Hill, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 2017

Dr Graham Hill is the chairman of National Legal Aid, the peak body representing legal aid commissions in all states and territories.

Growing numbers of older people are being pressured by adult children to guarantee enormous loans.

The pressure on older people can be immense. Adult children sometimes deny access to grandchildren if an elderly parent does not agree to be a guarantor or provide funds for a home deposit.

The boom in property prices has resulted in a spike in the numbers of adult children taking over an elderly parent’s home and refusing to move out. At times, rising house prices result in an adult child persuading an elderly parent to sell up and buy a home with them.

Vulnerable parents are unable to free themselves of an abusive son or daughter who insists on living rent-free. 

This is also an increasing problem across the Tasman, where it was reported in New Zealand earlier this year that increasing numbers of elderly being abused.

Age Concern statistics show about 75 per cent of alleged abusers were family members – more than half the alleged abusers were adult children or grandchildren.

Family situations were often complex and elderly people relied on the care of the abuser, so instead of reporting the abuse, they put up with it, Clare said.

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