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Better Off Dead

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#13 Unintended Consequences

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When Victoria’s VAD law was passed in 2017, it was touted by Premier Daniel Andrews as ‘the most conservative in the world’. This was true. Its 68 safeguards made it a far more daunting law for terminally ill people to access than similar laws in other countries. 

But was it too daunting? 

Much was said in parliament by opponents about the law’s ‘unintended consequences’. What if there are wrongful deaths? What if the doctor-patient relationship is damaged? Palliative care diminished?

None of these fears have turned out to be true. But that doesn’t mean there have been no unintended consequences. They’ve just turned out to be not as opponents argued.

In this episode, we hear from the families of two eligible Victorians who struggled to access VAD. And we hear something never heard before —-- a father and daughter as they actually go through the process of applying for a VAD permit, a process during which initial gratitude quickly turns to frustration, fear and anger.

Allan Cornell and his daughter Kristin: photo Supplied

She wrote numerous letters and made numerous phone calls to, it seemed like, 30 neurologists, but nobody would do it. And Helen's doctor said ,’I think this is gonna be a race between us getting the approval for the VAD and you dying’”

Reg Jebb

Helen and Reg Jebb. photo: Supplied

He was dying. He was suffering. He was begging, begging me the entire day to finish it. Where are they? Kristin? Where are they? Where are they?”

Kristin Cornell

Kristin Cornell: “I am so encouraged by the existence of this legislation – but there is more we can do. We can do this better. It shouldn’t be so hard that one is tempted to give up.” Photo: Juliet Lamont

Episode Extra: Doctors Discuss the Unintended Consequences of Victoria's VAD Law

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In this episode

In order of appearance: Kristin Cornell, Allan Cornell, Reg Jebb, Betty King, Greg Mewitt, Nola Maxfield, Andrea Bendrups and Nick Carr

Better Off Dead season two is produced by the Wheeler Centre and Go Gentle Australia.

Learn more about Go Gentle Australia’s work.

Writer, Co-Producer and Host: Andrew Denton (Go Gentle Australia)
Series Co-Producer and Script Editor: Bethany Atkinson-Quinton (The Wheeler Centre)
Associate Producers: Kiki Paul and Steve Offner (Go Gentle Australia)
Audio Editor and Engineer: Martin Peralta, with assistance from Adam Rothwell
Production Assistant: Alex Gow (The Wheeler Centre)

Marketing: Emily Harms (The Wheeler Centre), Steve Offner and Frankie Bennett (Go Gentle Australia) 
Publicity: Debbie McInnes (DMCPR Media)
Episode Pages: Mia McAuslan (The Wheeler Centre)
Episode Artwork: Megan Herbert
Transcript: Alice Boyle

Commissioning Editors: Kiki Paul (Go Gentle Australia) and Caro Llewellyn (The Wheeler Centre)
Theme music: ‘Loydie’s Angel’, written and performed by Jordan Laser
Music: James Domeyko

Special thanks to our interviewees Kristin Cornell and Reg Jebb for their time for this episode.

Footage supplied courtesy of Seven Network. All rights reserved. ©

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If you're suffering, or someone you love has died badly – in a hospital, in palliative care, in a nursing home, or at home – or if you’ve had an experience with Voluntary Assisted Dying, we would love to hear from you. Tell your story here.

Transcript

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Who?

Portrait of Andrew Denton

Andrew Denton

Andrew Denton is widely recognised as one of Australian media's genuinely creative forces.

Better Off Dead

Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia. 

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