Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:06): From today, 19 June 2019, Victoria’s historic voluntary assisted dying laws have come into effect. I am proud that Victoria is the first state to pass voluntary assisted dying laws with a model that is the most conservative in the world. This is a significant day for our state and indeed for our nation. I would like to acknowledge all the members in our Parliament across the political divide who respected the community’s wishes and supported this important reform. But my thoughts today are most importantly with those in the community who have campaigned for this for so many years, particularly those who are dying and their family members.
The Victorian Parliament passed these laws 18 months ago to give a small number of Victorians who are suffering intolerably at the end of their lives an additional compassionate choice. For Victorians like Margaret Radmore, who the Premier and I had the privilege to meet on Sunday, just knowing that this additional choice is available will provide enormous comfort. We have spent the past 18 months meticulously planning for the compassionate commencement of this scheme, ensuring the right safeguards and supports are in place. These laws are all about giving patients more end-of-life choices.
We know that palliative care will continue to be a critical part of our healthcare system. The Andrews Labor government is absolutely committed to ensuring Victorians have access to the very best palliative care. In this year’s state budget we are providing a $71.9 million boost to both hospital and community palliative care. Funding in this budget will also help Victorians who want to return home to be with their loved ones when they die. This builds on our 2017–18 investment of $55.6 million over five years to boost community and hospital-based palliative care in rural and regional Victoria.
Ultimately what we all aspire to for ourselves and for our loved ones is a good death—a death free from intolerable suffering. From today Victorians can take comfort in knowing that they have an additional compassionate choice.