Southern Cross Care QLD threatens to quit sector if it is forced to provide voluntary euthanasia

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The provider says it will be unwilling to offer Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) should Queensland become the third state to introduce legislation to support it.

VAD has proven to be a hot-button topic in the lead-up to the state election on 31 October with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pledging a re-elected Labor government would move to legalise it.

SCC QLD chief executive Jason Eldering has told The Australian that VAD would put Catholic-aligned Southern Cross, which has 11 aged care homes and five retirement villages, in a difficult position.

“We would not be willing to join the assisted dying process,” he said. “We would help any of our clients or residents to move to a location where they wished to pursue the assisted dying process, but we would … never intervene to cause death in our facilities.”

Victorian hospitals, retirement villages and aged care homes have been able to ‘opt out’ of providing VAD on conscientious grounds since VAD was introduced there in June 2019, followed by WA last December.

The proposed QLD bill allows a health or aged care “entity” to refuse VAD, but the provider must then arrange to transfer the resident to a facility where it can be administered.

Mr Eldering says SCC wants clarity to ensure that providers will not be forced to participate if the legislation does come in.

“We are saying that the legislation and our mission are incompatible if that was the case and we were forced to join,” he said.