The Uniting Church in Australia Queensland Synod, UnitingCare and Wesley Mission Queensland, have been strongly involved for the last few years in consultation and advocacy regarding the introduction of a voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland. This has included a Synod wide consultation process, three Government submissions, two appearances at Parliamentary Hearings and numerous meetings with Government Ministers.
This week saw the passing of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in Queensland Parliament. We acknowledge that many people across the life of the Uniting Church, including staff at UnitingCare and Wesley Mission Queensland, have strong views on this issue. While our official position is opposed to the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying, advocating the value and dignity of every life at all stages and in all circumstances, the Church remains committed to offering a compassionate and pastoral response to people and families who choose this path. Under this legislation, organisations are required to allow access to the scheme in their residential facilities and, in certain circumstances, in their hospitals. Our position is that we will commit to compassionate support of the people we serve, while not asking staff in Uniting Church entities to participate directly in acts intended to end the life of a person through voluntary assisted dying.
We are committed to maintaining our engagement with the State Government to ensure that safeguards are optimised in the upcoming development of policies and procedures that will set out
the exact requirements for the scheme. This engagement will aim to protect our staff and our residents/patients of aged care facilities, disability, hospices and hospitals so that no one is forced to
participate in, or be a witness to, any part of the Voluntary Assisted Dying process against their wishes and beliefs.
We will also continue to advocate for full funding of palliative care throughout Queensland and consultation with our First Nations communities. It is essential that all individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable, have the real choice of excellent, accessible palliative end of life care.
Rev Andrew Gunton
Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod
Chief Executive Officer, UnitingCare
Chief Executive Officer, Wesley Mission Queensland