High Profile Supporters of Dying with Dignity


See what these high profile Australians say about why they support voluntary assisted dying

As the campaign to legalise voluntary assisted dying in New South Wales progresses a number of high profile supporters have spoken up in favour of this compassionate, end-of-life choice. 

David Williamson AO

Award-winning playwright and dramatist

“It is sad and very cruel that people with a terminal illness or acute chronic pain, who feel that the quality of their life has disappeared and there is no prospect of it improving, are prevented from making their own decision about when to end it all. I do hope there are enough enlightened politicians who can reverse the situation and allow those with no other options to end their lives peacefully and at the moment of their choosing.”

Professor Fiona Stanley AC

Respected doctor, distinguished researcher and former Australian of the Year.

“It’s not just because I’m a humane doctor that I support voluntary assisted dying legislation (along with the majority of Australians). It is also because of personal experiences – my aunt, my husband and my mother all suffered at the end of their lives. If we had been able to give them the peaceful deaths they wanted, it would have been so much better.”

John Bell AO OBE

Actor and Theatre Director

“Whose life is it anyway? Nothing could be more personal, more private, more my own than my own life…There is no virtue, no value, no nobility in suffering for its own sake…Swap places with the sufferer for a week or two before you vote Yes or No….”

Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC

Lawyer and Former Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia.

“At my age I fear that I may suffer a protracted, painful and fatal illness without the option of a dignified death at a time of my own choosing. I saw my aunt go through the stages of motor neurone disease some years ago, without any opportunity of relief, such as the proposed Bill may provide. The Bill is a modest attempt to deal with this problem and I hope it will be supported.”

Andrew Denton

Journalist, broadcaster and founder of Go Gentle Australia

“Be loud. Be visible. The single most effective thing you can do is let your local MP know that you feel strongly in favour of voluntary assisted dying laws and that you expect them to act on it.”

Kirsten Drysdale

Journalist and television presenter

“Voluntary Assisted Dying is about love and compassion. Insisting people unnecessarily suffer through death is not.

We help our loved ones navigate all of life’s challenges. Why should death be any different?”

Prof. Simon Chapman AO

Emeritus Professor in Public Health, author and activist for public health

“I want the option that any humane person would grant to a dying pet. My mother slowly suffocated to death over six weeks with cancer in her lungs. Palliative care had nothing to offer her. Who would deny that to anyone they loved?”

Janet Holmes a Court AC

Businesswoman and philanthropist

“I support the humane idea of people having control over the method and manner of their dying, just as they should have control over their lives. A person who is terminally ill and experiencing intolerable suffering should have the right to choose to die, painlessly and with dignity. A doctor who has the courage and compassion to help them must be protected by the law.” 

Professor Charlie Teo AM

Neurosurgeon and founder of the Charlie Teo Foundation

“I am proud of my reputation of never giving up on patients who still have the will to live despite what others believe to be an exercise in futility. I am equally as proud to support Dying with Dignity because the only situation that would be worse than not having control of your life is to not have control over your own death.”

Jane Caro AM

Social commentator, television panellist, author, journalist and Walkley Award winner

“My body, my life, my death, my suffering, my choice. To sicken, to suffer, to age and to die is one thing. To lose my right to make my own choices is quite another.”

John Waters

Actor, singer, songwriter and musician

“When death is inevitable and the passage towards it is haunted by pain and suffering, both of the dying and their loved ones, then the ability to choose the time and place to die freed from anguish and uncertainty, with peace and love, should be a basic human right.”

Noni Hazlehurst AM

Actress, director, writer, presenter and broadcaster

“I believe that the choice to end life should be a personal one, unrelated to religious or political dogma. Dying with dignity when one’s suffering is unendurable is a fundamental human right.”

Nicholas Cowdery AM

Barrister and former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

“I strongly believe in personal autonomy – the ability of a rational individual to make informed decisions and choices free from coercion. People with full capacity should be free to make decisions about their private lives, including treatment by others and the cessation of inevitable and severe suffering by ending life.”

Nikki Gemmell

Author, journalist and columnist at The Australian

“My hope is that New South Wales sees the light in terms of voluntary assisted dying, by giving people choice and a sense of control over how their lives may end. It’s a deeply humane act.”

Peter FitzSimons AM

Author, journalist, radio and television presenter

“While tragic, it is legal for me to take my life, alone in the back shed, but illegal for me to access a drug which will let me die peacefully surrounded by my loved ones. Yes, some people have a religious problem with this. That is not my religion, and I would respectfully ask them to get out of my life, and death.” People are killing themselves in violent and lonely ways because they see no legal way to end their suffering. The law needs to change to allow terminally ill people the right to choose how they die. Palliative care cannot always help.”

Mary Kostakidis

Journalist and former presenter of SBS World News

“We need to ensure we can maintain control over our lives to the very end. There is no dignity in having that right taken from us.”

Dick Smith AC

Businessperson, adventurer, philanthropist and former Australian of the Year

“I am a strong supporter of the Dying with Dignity movement.”

Coral Levett

Nurse Manager and former President of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association

“I’m proud to be part of the NSW Nurses & Midwives Association and their strong support of legislative change to enable those profoundly suffering at end of life to choose to die with dignity in a manner acceptable to them.” 

Mikey Robins

Media personality, comedian and writer

“It is often said that our lives are defined by our choices. Surely we have earned the right to make our final choice.”

Mary Chiarella AM

Professor Emerita University of Sydney, nurse and midwife, former Chief Nursing Officer for NSW.

“As a former palliative care nurse, I know that sadly there are people whose suffering we cannot alleviate adequately at end of life. I also know how distressing that can be for the people who love them. How much more humane and compassionate it will be to give a dying person the choice to determine their right to die in dignity and control. I am committed to the rights of individuals to manage this most important aspect of the end of life in the way that they feel best works for them and their loved ones.”

Phillip Adams AO

Journalist, social commentator, radio host and columnist for The Australian

“I don’t recall having any say on my birth – but insist on having a say on my death which (age 81, accursed with painful ailments) rapidly approaches. And politicians I didn’t vote for and religions I reject will not stop me ending life when I choose to do so.”

The Hon. Professor Geoff Gallop AC

Emeritus Professor and former Premier of Western Australia

“The continuum of end-of-life care should include assisted dying for those whose suffering has become hopeless and unbearable. Ensuring a dignified death is surely the mark of a civilised society.”

Libby Gleeson AM

Highly acclaimed children’s author

“We are free to live our lives as we choose. So too we should be able to end that life and choose to die serenely, peacefully and with dignity.”

Reverend Bill Crews AM

Christian Minister of the Uniting Church and radio broadcaster

“I wholeheartedly support the organisation ‘Dying with Dignity’. Indeed, I have supported those advocating voluntary euthanasia since the early 1970s when I first encountered people who, it seemed, were outliving their ability to tolerate being alive.

Today, medical science is extending lives even further – sometimes to the point where the “quality” is removed from the “quality of life”. Surely loving compassion calls us to acknowledge someone’s wish to die if they are suffering a terminal illness and their quality of life is no more.”

Professor Merrilyn Walton AM

Professor of Medical Education at The University of Sydney.

“Modern medicine has been phenomenal but the amazing developments in technology including medicines have had unintended consequences for us humans. Now at a time when we have more choices about our health care we have less when it comes to dying. Why people have to suffer at the end of their lives is incomprehensible to me. Giving people the choice to die with dignity will address these unwanted consequences.”

Peter O’Doherty & Reg Mombassa

Musicians and founding members of Mental As Anything.

“Politicians and the over religious should get out of the way of a clear majority of sensible and decent people who want the right to end their life in a peaceful and dignified manner at a time of their own choosing.”

Ben Quilty

Artist and social commentator

“As we become more sophisticated and more capable of understanding a profoundly complex universe, our life span is expanding. But death is becoming longer and more grotesque. That we prolong life at the expense of a peaceful death is simply inhumane. Suffering is a state we will never overcome, but it is our responsibility to minimise it. I have watched my loved ones lie on a fetid bed, wasting away, in pain and sorrow. That twilight world that we expect our most vulnerable to exist in is a terrible indictment on the notion of human progress”.

Quentin Dempster AM

Journalist, author and broadcaster

“Yes life is precious. But death is inevitable. Many of us have to confront debilitating terminal illness. We need humane laws which deliver to those who want and need it a legally protected process for choice in the manner and time of death. This will mitigate needless suffering for those who are dying and their loved ones.”

Reverend Graham Long AM

Pastor and former CEO of The Wayside Chapel

“The good of life is multiple. It’s a reductionist absurdity to argue that a mere pulse is human life. In the end stages of life, the only humane response required is that of compassion.”

Robyn Williams AO FAA

Science broadcaster

“Having had a few encounters with unassisted dying I am convinced that I’d like the choice. There is no doubt others would too. It is humane and, indeed, civilised.

Alan Kirkland

Consumer Advocate

“If you’ve got a terminal illness, perhaps the only thing you can control is the manner in which you die. Why should we allow the law to take away that right? It’s time for NSW to follow other governments in Australia and around the world and enact assisted dying laws.”

Catharine Lumby

Professor of Media at Sydney University, author and gender equality advocate

“Everyone has the right to die with dignity and free of unnecessary pain. It is a fundamental human right and it is time that our laws caught up with the views of millions of compassionate Australians.”

The Hon Emeritus Professor Peter Baume AC Dist FRSN

Patron of DWD NSW: physician; former Federal Minister; former Chancellor and Emeritus Professor

“It’s time to give those who face an agonising end of life agency over the manner of their dying. A Dying with Dignity Act will grant them this right, ensures an appropriate legal and ethical framework for their particular end of life decisions, and stops the criminalisation of them and those who support them. It can be done, and it’s past time..”

Tony Eastley

Reporter, foreign correspondent and radio and television presenter

“Why shouldn’t people who are suffering protracted, painful and fatal illnesses be given a choice?  Let them decide if they wish to die painlessly and with dignity.”

Andrew Penman AM

Former CEO NSW Cancer Council

“It’s time to give those who face an agonising end of life agency over the manner of their dying. A Dying with Dignity Act will grant them this right, ensures an appropriate legal and ethical framework for their particular end of life decisions, and stops the criminalisation of them and those who support them. It can be done, and it’s past time..”

Dr Michael Moore AM PhD

Distinguished Fellow The George Institute Uni of NSW and Adjunct Professor Uni of Canberra

“As an Independent MLA in the ACT Parliament, I attempted on three occasions through the 1990s to achieve legislation on Voluntary Assisted Dying. Getting the power balance between doctors and patients was a key challenge. However, I have always considered it appalling to prevent persons who are terminally ill and suffering from making their own choice on how they end their lives. In the last quarter century more and more people have come to the same conclusion. The people of New South Wales and the ACT ought not be denied the same rights as people in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia.”

Everald Compton

Elder of the Uniting Church and a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia

“I do not believe that God decides who lives or dies. I do believe that my Christian faith gives me the spiritual power to handle without fear whatever hits me in life, including my inevitable death. Fundamental to my faith is my belief that I have a right to make responsible choices in crises and this includes a decision to end my life by voluntary assisted dying in the event of me having a terminal illness. It is my intention to work ceaselessly to ensure that every Australian has this choice.”