The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria Inc. (VESV) is primarily a law reform organisation and was founded in 1974. Our aims are:
- to promote legislation that gives effect to freedom of choice and individual human rights so that any person suffering, through illness or disability, severe pain or distress for which no remedy is available that is acceptable to the person should be entitled by law to a painless and dignified death in accordance with his or her express direction;
- to carry out a continuing public education policy to achieve such legislation;
- to refer individuals to counsellors.
Because VESV campaigns for voluntary euthanasia, this presupposes that the incurably ill person is, or has been, able to make decisions for him or herself. Therefore, VESV does not involve itself with issues raised by euthanasia for incompetent patients, such as severely disabled infants or those with dementia.
For many people the process of dying involves pain and suffering. With developments in medical science, this process can be extended, often indefinitely. Sometimes the pain cannot be controlled without unacceptable side-effects; sometimes it is not pain that causes the suffering, but the loss of control over bodily functions and total dependence on others. In such situations, the patient may not be facing imminent death but may be suffering from an incurable, degenerative illness, such as multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease.
The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria (VESV) aims to change the law so that medically assisted dying is permitted at the request of competent, incurably ill people who wish to avoid pointless suffering and degeneration, and to control their own dying.
The main functions of VESV are to
- lobby politicians and write submissions with the aim of achieving law reform to allow medically assisted dying at the request of competent, incurably ill adults;
- provide VESV members with
- information and advice about their rights under existing legislation;
- an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) form, in accordance with the Medical Treatment Act, for the appointment of an agent;
- an Advance Directive (living will) for general purposes. Also available are Advance Directives specifically for people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Motor Neurone Disease;
- a small printed card for the purse or wallet, in which the name of the members agent can be entered;
- a quarterly newsletter (‘VESV REPORT’);
- regular group counselling workshops – “How you can choose and achieve a dignified death”;
- individual counselling;
- inform the general public by writing to the newspapers, giving interviews to the media, talking to community groups and sponsoring public lectures;
- provide information for students who are studying the topic of euthanasia;