Jul 16, 2021


Jul 16, 2021

First Australians, poorer Queenslanders and those in remote communities will be among those most at risk of feeling forced into doctor-assisted suicide if Voluntary Assisted Dying laws pass the Queensland Parliament, Katter’s Australian Party Leader Robbie Katter has said.

Mr Katter said while the Palaszczuk Labor Government was seeking to circumvent Commonwealth laws that prevent medical professionals counselling terminally ill people in the regions on the topic of suicide via the phone and internet, they’d made no real efforts to improve the alternative –  palliative care – in these communities.

Mr Katter said Queensland’s Indigenous communities had been almost voiceless with regards to development of proposed VAD legislation.

On the day of the final hearing into the laws in Brisbane, Mr Katter stood alongside Queensland Indigenous Elders who spoke from the perspective of their community and rejected the legislation.

Mr Katter, who as the Member for Traeger represents a number of Indigenous communities, said while personal views varied there was generally an overwhelming and deeply-felt opposition amongst First Australians towards voluntary euthanasia.

He said to date, and despite suggestions otherwise by certain politicians, very few members of the Indigenous community have had their voices heard on the issue.

Notably, during the widespread public hearings held as part of the Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into Aged Care, End-of-Life Care, Palliative Care, and Voluntary Assisted Dying in 2019, only 22 witnesses out of the total 502 identified as First Australians.

Mr Katter said it was First Australians who would be most at risk of being exposed to situations where VAD would occur if the laws passed, given the higher prevalence of chronic disease amongst their communities and their limited access to quality medical care.

“Not only has the Government not listened to all indigenous communities, they won’t listen to those who don’t support their narrative,” he said.

“They use certain Indigenous individuals to try and push the message that assisted suicide is in the interests of all Indigenous people, but they won’t acknowledge that these laws are completely contrary to both the Traditional and Christian values that many Indigenous people feel very strongly about.

“Government won’t acknowledge that the lack of healthcare services means there is huge risk Indigenous people will feel coerced into assisted suicide when the government refuses to provide proper alternatives in the communities.

“It’s fine to talk about freedom of choice, but there is no choice in remote communities due to lack of services, and my concern is that Indigenous people will feel coerced into assisted suicide.”

Kalkadoon woman, Indigenous Elder and former long-term health worker Noelene Dempsey said many members of her community were highly spiritual and connection to land and community defined their lives and culture.

She said her community were largely sceptical, and generally rejected, any notion of deliberately ending human lives no matter the circumstances.