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Better Off Dead Season 2: #5 I Choose Not to Suffer

Listen Tuesday, 27 Apr 2021
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So much was said during Victoria’s parliamentary debate about the people who would choose voluntary assisted dying, were it to be made legal.

That they could not possibly know their own minds.

I do not believe that an individual who is facing such enormous pressure and stress is capable of making a decision to end their own life.”

Nat Suleyman, MP


That the burden of possessing life-ending medication would be too much for them.

If I was in that situation, I would probably think about it every hour — ‘Will I take it now? Will I take it tomorrow? Will I take it after I’ve watched my favourite TV show?”

Luke O’Sullivan, MLC


That they would be pushed into ending their lives by hard-hearted relatives.

Sometimes the relatives might … be wanting to encourage the person to take their medicine — take their poison, I should say.”

Neil Angus, MP


Or that they should never even need to make such a choice, because palliative care could alleviate all their pain and suffering.

Advances in palliative care medicine have been prodigious, to the point where well-managed cases under best practice palliative care can eliminate physical pain and discomfort.”

Robert Clark, MP


Why don’t we just let these people speak for themselves?

Meet Ron Poole, Fiona McClure, and Peter Jones, three Victorians from very different backgrounds in the final stages of a terminal illness and facing potentially brutal deaths.

Ron Poole, 77 and his beloved dog Bobby. “ The thing that got me was people saying how brave I am! I’m not being brave. Bravery doesn’t come into it. ” – Photo: Juliet Lamont
Peter ‘Frankie’ Jones. “My daughter’s going to lose someone she loves very much, as I am. That’s my biggest fear…” – Photo: Juliet Lamont

Each has exhausted treatment options and been offered expert palliative care. Each has chosen to complete the VAD assessment and has in their possession life-ending medication that they can choose to take – or not – when the time is right.

Buoyed by the peace of mind of knowing they have an option to end their suffering if it becomes too great, all are determined to live what remains of their life to the full and say their goodbyes in the best way they know how.

Fiona McClure, 67 and her partner Wim Wansink: “I’ve been very impressed with the whole process. Everyone has been kind, knowledgeable, respectful, able to discuss the options. There was no sense of urgency.” – Photo: Juliet Lamont

I’d like to go out in a pretty dress with a pretty pink lipstick, and having just had a latte with a girlfriend. And I’m still looking forward to that glass of champagne after I take the draught. French champagne.”

Fiona McClure, metastatic stomach cancer

Know More

In this episode (in order of appearance): Ron Poole,  Fiona McClure, Wim Wansink, Peter Jones


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
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 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
Episode Artwork: Megan Herbert

Music: James Domeyko, Aaron Gleeson, Alex Gow, Martin Peralta

Special thanks to our interviewees Ron Poole, Fiona McClure, Wim Wansink and Peter Jones for giving up their precious time for these interviews. Since recording this episode, Peter and Ron have died. Our thoughts are with their loved ones.

Listen to Better Off Dead season one here, and subscribe in iTunes, or follow via your favourite podcast app.


Your stories

If you’re suffering, or someone you love has died badly – in a hospital, in palliative care, in a nursing home, or at home – add your voice and tell your story here.


Download a transcript of this episode in PDF format.


Please note: this podcast is not about suicide. If you are interested in increasing your understanding of suicide and how to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation, visit the Conversations Matter or beyondblue websites.

If you (or someone you know) require immediate assistance, contact one of the following 24/7 crisis support services: Lifeline (13 11 14), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), MensLine (1300 78 99 78), beyondblue (1300 22 4636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or eheadspace (1800 650 890).



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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.