While disability carers are extremely resilient and resourceful their mental and physical wellbeing would decline significantly if support services were not available. That’s the conclusion reached from a survey and interviews with disability carers undertaken by Wesley Mission in Sydney in January this year. The Wesley Report provides a snapshot of life as a carer of someone with disability; the commitment, the concerns, the joys, and the challenges. “The reality is that this role is hugely taxing and takes its toll on even the most robust, loving people,” the CEO of Wesley Mission the Rev Dr Keith Garner said.

The survey asked carers to consider the impact if the services they receive were absent. Across all aspects measured (social, emotional and financial), carers indicated that they would be considerably less satisfied without the provision of care services. “We discovered that carers of people with disability are incredibly compassionate and resilient. Their capacity to overcome adversity and rise to continual challenges is remarkable.” Rev Garner said. Significantly, 82% of respondents in the survey indicated that their level of satisfaction with their mental health would decline without the provision of care services.  Some 71% said the level of stress in their lives would worsen if services were reduced.

More than half of all those surveyed indicated that they would be less satisfied with their physical health if services were not provided, and 67 per cent said that they would be dissatisfied with the impact on their personal time if services were not provided. “While the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and a renewed focus on person-centred care is designed to better tailor services to the needs of the individual, the provision of disability support outside the NDIS is still essential to assist both carers of people with disability and the individuals themselves,” Dr Garner said.

Understanding the impacts of disability service access for individuals is critical to ensuring that services remain relevant in meeting the needs of people with a disability and their carers.  Life is extremely complex and stressful for carers. The research showed that almost all carers interviewed were caring for a number of individuals, and had personal health issues, relationship concerns and/or mental health complications. Carers are exposed to stress from a number of areas, leaving them highly susceptible to breakdown. The lifestyle of carers is completely focused on, and dedicated to, the wellbeing of those they care for, resulting in them putting themselves in ‘second place’.

The complexity of combining caring responsibilities with non-caring responsibilities, and the challenge of fitting work commitments around caring, left carers feeling there was limited time in the day to do all they needed to do. They are concerned for the future of those in their care particularly in regard to securing a meaningful and safe future for those they care for. Despite all the stress, carers are very resilient- while stress, strain and sacrifice are all part of caring for someone with disability, carers showed a determination to provide the best care they could. Wesley Mission also wanted to find out what the financial impact would be on carers if services were diminished.

What was clear was that caring for someone with disability had a significant impact on the ability for carers to engage in the labour market. There was a clear link between getting support services and the ability of carer to return to the workforce to pursue career options. Beyond the financial benefits of employment, carers interviewed for the study indicated that work gives satisfaction in life. The level of disability in the community is telling: one-third of all Australian households include a person with a disability, 4.2 million Australians have a disability while 2.7 million provide informal care to people with a disability. Twenty-nine per cent of these people are primary carers.

Source: Press Release from Wesley Mission

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Voluntary euthanasia advocate Dr Rodney Syme has admitted he supplied a lethal dose of a drug to Steve Guest, who was dying from oesophageal cancer in 2005.  When Steve Guest was dying from oesophageal cancer in 2005, he couldn’t swallow and was starving to death. He told friends he didn’t want to waste away. When he later killed himself at his Point Londsdale home, voluntary euthanasia campaigner Rodney Syme admitted he’d given Mr Guest “information about medication”. But he has now upped the ante, saying he aided the death. I essentially provided him with a lethal dose of Nembutal said Dr Syme.

Dr Syme who is a urologist from Dying With Dignity, admits he knew there was a strong possibility Mr Guest would use the drug to kill himself. “If you give somebody control, you relieve the extreme fear, anxiety, terror that they can have as they go towards the end of their life. And if you can believe that you’re doing one of the most powerful, palliative things that you can do, you relieve their extreme psychological suffering. Dr Syme has told ABC local radio he doesn’t want to be prosecuted, but he made a promise to himself in 1992 if the law on assisted dying didn’t change in a decade, he’d create a court challenge. He says that deadline has long passed, and nothing’s changed.

“In fact over the last 20 years, there have been 16 private members bills to legislate for voluntary assisted dying and in every case the state parliaments have rejected them” Dr Symes said. Dr Syme hopes instead of authorities prosecuting him, they refer the matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission. Dr Symes said “I see that this issue is not going to be resolved through the parliament, not in my lifetime if things go as they have been, but it may be possible to get some resolution through the courts. I’m relying on the fact that I believe 12 of my peers, good men and women, would believe that I’m a good doctor, not a criminal.”

For the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review legislation, cases have to be referred by the Attorney-General. The Victorian Government has told the ABC it has no plans to do so. Victoria Police however says its Homicide Squad has reopened its investigation into the death of Steve Guest, and will assess the new information. No Victorian doctor has been charged with assisting a suicide in decades. But Paul Russell from the group Hope – Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, wants an example made of Dr Syme. “We have a doctor who for whatever reason has decided that this gentlemen’s life was no longer worth living” Mr Russell said.

Mr Russell continued “Whilst Steve Guest make the decision to die ultimately it is the doctor’s choice more than it is the choice of the person themselves, because without their agreeing that Mr Guest’s life was not worth living he would not have been able to obtain those drugs and kill himself in the manner that he did.” ” Whilst some may argue that Dr Symes was simply providing medication to relieve suffering and that the fact Mr Grant chose to use it, to end his life, was his decision completely, I believe that argument is very questionable” said Mr Russell. Nembutal is well known as the drug of choice in euthanasia cases and it’s very often called the peaceful pill.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews says that Labor would not support a debate on a radical proposal to change abortion laws in Victoria being proposed by Independent Victorian MP Geoff Shaw.  Mr Shaw is preparing to drop a bombshell in State Parliament and cause divisions on both sides of politics with a bill that would outlaw partial-birth and gender selection abortions. The MP, whose vote keeps Premier Denis Napthine in office, had been expected to introduce a Bill that would end the obligation for anti-abortion doctors to refer women to specialists who performed the procedure. But Mr Shaw said he has now changed his mind and will push for six radical changes to the state’s abortion laws.

Six months from the state election, Mr Shaw says he wants doctors to provide pain relief for foetuses during procedures, and for doctors to resuscitate babies who survive abortion attempts. He also wants counselling for families and informed consent included in the Act. He said Victoria’s abortion laws were some of the worst in the world and he wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless” and was “sticking up for women”. Mr Shaw said. “Here in Australia we can’t kill snake eggs but we are quite happy to kill an egg in the tummy of a woman and it should be the safest place for a baby to be.”

The Government and Opposition would be keen to avoid an abortion debate so close to an election, with the Bill likely to cause tension among religious MPs within the Coalition and Labor. Women’s rights groups are likely to be outraged by the proposals but Mr Shaw said: “How can any women who are pro-women’s rights say that you can kill girls.” In 2008, a debate raged for months over laws to decriminalise abortion, with some MPs breaking down. At the time, Premier Napthine, a Catholic, voted against the decriminalisation of abortion. In December last year, the Liberal State Council passed a motion to allow doctors to refuse to refer patients to pro-abortion specialists.

Mr Andrews has said he would not back Mr Shaw’s plan. “The Labor Party will have no part whatsoever in a dirty, grubby deal between Geoff Shaw and Denis Napthine to change the abortion law in our state,” Mr Andrews said. “Geoff Shaw is off the reservation yet again.” Mr Andrews said no Labor MPs had raised with him any concerns about the existing abortion legislation. “We’re having absolutely no involvement in that because it’s wrong, it is fundamentally wrong.” Mr Andrews said the legislation would not reach a stage of members having a conscience vote because his party would not support it.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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