I have lived in Darwin since 1966. I have a background in working humanities being employed by Community Development, Health and Community Services, Health Department, and the Royal Darwin Hospital retiring in 2017. I have been involved in a plethora of Voluntary Organisations and I am an active member of numerous Voluntary Organisations, Body Corporates and Boards.
My first hand experience in 1998, when my father died in a private hospital in NSW suffering from Pancreatic cancer, was absolutely harrowing.
My father who was of sound mind engaged Solicitors to attend the ward and instructed them to draw up paperwork so that I could be his guardian etc. My Dad said to me “Daughter, will you be my advocate,” to which I said “of course Dad”.
Time and time again my Dad would plead with me ..”if I was a dog you could have me put down, or “if I was a dog you would have me put down”. This experience was traumatic and compounded by the fact he had open wounds and a short life span. The day my Dad saw himself in a mirror, for the first time in weeks, he was mortified and horrified as he looked like “the walking dead”. He cried from the shock.
Whilst I was unable to have my Dad “put down”, I was able to find a Consultant who ensured my father was appropriately cared for at his end of life … to the best of my ability … being my Dad’s trusted advocate. My Dad would have preferred to have the choice to be afforded to die with dignity, and have a better end-of-life experience.
When I realised there was an active NTVES organisation some years later, I joined with the hope that I would never have to experience a parent, relative or myself having No Choice at end of life.
Unfortunately, my mother was also not afforded the opportunity to have a choice when she died in Darwin in 2020. What compounded her problem was that she had Alzheimer’s disease and even though I was her Guardian I was not able to ensure she was given pain relief, owing to the fact she had Alzheimer’s and the disbelief of medical staff who doubted she was actually needing medication. My mother did not experience a good death.
So to me the choice to die a good death and to die with dignity is important. I can only hope as a Territorian, and an Australian, the law will revert back to how it was in the NT and appropriate guidelines will be written and become law.