Northern Rivers DWD champions off to a great start

Northern Rivers DWD champions off to a great start

Dying with Dignity supporters in the Northern Rivers region launched their on-the-ground, grassroots campaign in Lismore on Monday 8 February to show their local MPs just how much community support there is for voluntary assisted dying laws.

Stall volunteers were very pleased with the response as other local residents came to talk about the issue and find out more about the proposed legislation due to be introduced by Alex Greenwich MP later this year. In addition to many worthwhile conversations, over 110 signatures were added to the DWD petition that can be found here:

Cher Holle (middle) and Cathy Barry talking with Ronny Susanto from Janelle Saffin’s office.

Local, Cathy Barry, was one of the organisers. Cathy’s brother Tom died last year from an untreatable, terminal, metastatic facial carcinoma. Despite receiving excellent care from his GP and dedicated nurses, doctors and palliative care staff, it was a prolonged and unnecessarily traumatic death.

“Tom asked that he be assisted to end his suffering but this could not happen. Tom asked that he be given a pain free, peaceful and dignified, end of life experience but this did not happen,” said Cathy Barry.

“I want to ensure that the unnecessary and horrific experience which both my brother Tom and we, his family, had to endure at the end of his life does not go unnoticed and fade in vain. I want a legacy for all those who seek dignified last days and death. Tom died after 5 days of prolonged and relentless extreme pain and emotional distress. His end of life experience in his own dying word, which he struggled to express, was “inhumane.”

The only thing Tom wanted at the end of his life was the right to a peaceful, dignified death surrounded by his loved ones but without assisted dying laws in NSW, he was denied that choice.

According to stall captain, Cathy Barry, her wonderful group of  volunteers created a festive and friendly buzz around the stall.

“A lot of people said they would use the leaflet or send a link to the website to family and friends and their communities, said Cathy.

The Lismore stall attracted a lot of media attention. Vice President, Shayne Higson was interviewed on Radio 97 Breakfast Show (Tweed Heads) and Cathy Barry did an excellent, 10 minute interview on ABC North Coast News radio.

“Several people who came to sign the petition said they had come to sign up because of the interview they heard on the ABC that morning, said Cathy.

The Lismore stall also featured on the 6 pm NBN North Coast news that night and was the headline news story on their website. You can view the NBN story here.

Janelle Saffin was unable to attend because it was a sitting week, however, she sent her apologies and a staff member attended the stall and took photos.

Dying with Dignity would like to thank all the volunteers who took part in the Lismore stall – Cathy Barry, Cher Holle, Eric Wilson, Taran Tula, Vicki Brooke, Roy Starkey, Roger Monk, Roy, Hendrik de Vries and Martin Gerada.

(l to r) Eric Wilson and Taran Tula with stall captain, Cathy Barry at Lismore Shopping Square

Ballina Stall

The second Northern Rivers stall, held at Ballina Fair on Thursday 18 February, saw even more signatures added to Dying with Dignity’s petition.

The Dying with Dignity NSW petition launched in December 2020 now has over 28,000 signatures and according to Penny Hackett, Dying with Dignity NSW President, that figure is rapidly growing. The petition can be found here:

“It’s time to get this done once and for all so we’re asking members of NSW Parliament to start working collaboratively to on this Bill so that it can pass,” said Ms Hackett.

“This issue is not going away, and the longer it takes for voluntary assisted dying law reform to take place in NSW – the more people will be forced to suffer bad deaths or take matters into their own hands, creating unnecessary trauma for all involved,”

Dying with Dignity’s stall at Ballina Fair