Mercy Community Voluntary Assisted Dying Policy Statement
From 1 January 2023 access to a Voluntary Assisted Dying substance will be available to people in Queensland who meet strict eligibility criteria. Under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (VAD) (Queensland), entities in Queensland can choose whether or not to provide Voluntary Assisted Dying services, with the understanding that there are obligations under the Act in relation to providing a person with access to information and independent practitioners.
Inspired by the Catholic tradition, Mercy Community ‘promotes life in all its fullness through the provision of aged care, disability and community services.’ We believe that every person is precious and has intrinsic dignity that exists at every stage of life. As such Mercy Community cannot promote or facilitate treatments or action where the primary purpose is to terminate life.
Mercy Community is therefore strongly opposed to the VAD legislation, and its people will not participate in or facilitate Voluntary Assisted Dying services within any of our programs or services. However, Mercy Community is being required under the legislation to provide a minimum level of access to VAD and based on this we will respond to any access requests by the people we support and thereby meet our minimum legislative obligations.
- Mercy Community will ensure that it has the resources and capability to deliver or access quality, respectful and compassionate Palliative Care and End of Life Care, supporting each person we support to live and value each day to the maximum extent possible, or will facilitate referral to these services as appropriate.
- Mercy Community will ensure that the people we support are made aware of Mercy Community’s position on VAD, that is Mercy Community will not be participating in VAD. Should the people we support request information on VAD they will be provided with written information on end-of-life and palliative care services that Mercy Community is able to make available and contact details for Q-VAD. Contact information for specific VAD services will not be included.
- Mercy Community will ensure that appropriate structures are in place to provide pathways and support for our Mercy Community People and the people we support.
- Mercy Community will ensure that trained representatives are available to engage in end-of-life discussions and that processes are in place to respond to the results of these discussions.
- Mercy Community will publish a Policy Statement on its website and in other publicly available material that clearly states its position in opposition to the VAD legislation and the fact that we will not participate in or facilitate Voluntary Assisted Dying services within any of our programs or services.
- Mercy Community will ensure that our people are aware of Mercy Community’s position on VAD, and the requirements of them in not supporting any person we support with suicide including not participating in or facilitating VAD Services.
This specifically requires that:
- Mercy Community People will not initiate discussions about Voluntary Assisted Dying with the people we support.
- If asked about VAD our People will remind the person we support about Mercy Community’s position in relation to VAD and then will escalate the request to an appropriately trained representative.
In this policy statement, the following words have the following meanings:
People we support or person we support:
all people who access support from Mercy Community.
an approach that seeks to improve the quality of life of the people we support (and their families) who are facing difficulties with life-threatening illness through the prevention and relief of suffering (whether this suffering is physical, psychological and/or spiritual) by means of early identification, assessment and treatment of pain and other difficulties.
End of Life Care:
includes physical, spiritual and psychosocial assessment, care and treatment delivered by health professionals and ancillary Mercy Community people, and support for families and carers, and care of the persons’ body after their death.
Voluntary Assisted Dying:
the administration of a voluntary assisted dying substance and includes steps reasonably related to that administration.
Voluntary Assisted Dying Substance:
a substance approved by the chief executive under section 160 of the Act. (Note: under section 160 of the Act the chief executive may approve an S4 substance or S8 substance, or a combination of those substances, for use under this Act for the purpose of causing a person’s death.)
Approved by the Mercy Community Board (30/11/2022).