Podcast episodeCover image for of Bonus Episode 14: Last Words: Voluntary Assisted Dying

Better Off Dead

Bonus Episode 14: Last Words: Voluntary Assisted Dying  /  Life & death

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying law came into effect in June 2019. The first of its kind in Australia and touted as the most conservative in the world, the passing of Victoria’s law was a watershed moment for end-of-life care in this country.

More than eighteen months on, in April 2021, what effect is this law having on end-of-life care for terminally ill Victorians? Is the law working as planned? And is there room for improvement?

The final episode of Better Off Dead season two centres on a recording of the Wheeler Centre’s Last Words: Voluntary Assisted Dying panel discussion. Previously broadcast on Radio National’s Big Ideas programme, it features a panel discussion on voluntary assisted dying hosted by Paul Barclay. Panelists include Andrew Denton, founder of Go Gentle Australia and host of the Better Off Dead podcast; Justice Betty King QC, Chair of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board; Professor Phillip Parente, oncologist; and Ron Poole, a terminally ill Shepparton man who has chosen to access the voluntary assisted dying life-ending medication.

Our special thanks to Ron Poole, who generously took time out of the precious final days of his life to share his perspective on voluntary assisted dying. Ron died on 26 April, less than a week after this panel discussion took place. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.


"People come to this often – late. And they come late because they really haven’t known about it, haven’t been told about it or are in a situation where they don’t want to face mortality."

Justice Betty King Know more Visit Go Gentle Australia Audio: Legalising Voluntary Assisted Dying -- Radio National’s Big Ideas programme, part of Caxton Legal Centre's 'Justice in Focus' series. Presented in conjunction with QUT. Recorded on 21 February 2019 Visit: Voluntary Assisted Dying -- Victorian Health official website

In order of appearance: Paul Barclay, Ron Poole, Andrew Denton, Phillip Parente, Betty King

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)…

Podcast episodeCover image for of #13 Unintended Consequences

Better Off Dead

13 Unintended Consequences  /  Life & death

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

Embed player <iframe frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe> Listen Episode Extra: Doctors Discuss the Unintended Consequences of Victoria's VAD Law Know more Visit Go Gentle Australia Article: ‘Assisted dying is not the easy way out’ — The Conversation, 19 Feb 2020 Article: ‘Without more detail, it’s premature to say voluntary assisted dying laws in Victoria are…

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