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The Exit Internationalist


On 22 – 23 September, Exit International held its 20th Anniversary Conference at the State Library of Victoria.

About the Conference

This is a conference that has changed the dying debate.

Current models of law reform frame the right to die debate as solely for the terminally ill. Aid in Dying / Dying with Dignity are concepts based on the conferment of medical privileges for the very, very sick.

‘If you are sick enough, then you may be able to request assistance to die (well).’

What about our civil rights? Let’s reframe the discussion.

Dying well, and at a time/ place of one’s choosing, is the fundamental human right of every adult of sound mind?

Everybody Deserves a Peaceful Death?

To help us understand the debate past / present we have invited cultural historian, Dr Deb Campbell, provided the opening keynote address.

Author of a new short book titled Doing Us Slowly: What’s Happened to the Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Debate? Dr Campbell’s principal argument — and the theme of the conference — is that the current ‘NOBA’ model for euthanasia law-making is misplaced.

‘NOBA’ = Not Only But Also!

In current law reform models NOT ONLY must you be so ill as likely to die within months, BUT you must ALSO gain the permission of the medical profession if you seek to qualify to use such a law!

For many people, this sits badly.  From Exit’s perspective, the decision of when and how to die is much more fundamental. We are talking civil rights vis a vis medical treatment.

It is our life and we should be the sole arbiters in how it ends. Medical qualification, beyond being of sound mind, is up for critique.

Doing Us Slowly is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the past and the future of the right to die debate.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Deb Campbell (Australia)Doing Us Slowly: What’s Happened to the Australian Voluntary Euthanasia Debate? Conference Opening Address

Professor Susan Stefan (USA)Rational Suicide, Irrational Laws (Oxford University Press, 2016)

(Read the recent Huffington Post review of Stefan’s book Huffington Post)

Dr Lieve Thienpont (Belgium) –  Psychiatrist who works with requests to die from the non-terminally ill elderly in Belgium

Professor Sean Davison (South Africa) – President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies & Founder of Dignity Sth Africa. Professor Davison was convicted of the attempted murder of his mother in NZ in 2011.

Dr Anne Summers (Australia) – Australian Living Treasure & Foundation Feminist

Professor Emeritus Dennis Altman (Australia) – Gay Rights Activist & Leading Academic (Latrobe University)

Professor Tony Van Loon (Belgium) – Belgian Law Professor & Ethicist who recently experienced the planned death of his mother

Professor Brian Martin (Australia) – Expert in the Politics of Dissent, Political Activism, Whistleblowing (University of Wollongong)

Ms Cath Ringwood (Australia) – Media Spokesperson living with a Terminal Illness

Rev Bill Crews (Australia) – CEO, Exodus Foundation & National Living Treasure

Professor Emeritus Malcolm Parker (Australia) – Expert in futile medicine, legal capacity & decision-making (University of Queensland)

Ms Anny Shaw – Daughter of Peter and Pat Shaw (‘The Big Sleep’ The Age 22 January 2016)*

Dr Philip Nitschke (Australia/ Netherlands) – Director, Exit International (Conference closing address)

It is with great regret that Anny Shaw withdrew from the conference program after recent brain tumour surgery. We wish Anny the very best for her recovery.

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner was held at the Old Melbourne Gaol with the ‘lock up’ experience! Brilliant night!

Special Guest: ‘Whats Matter You’ Legend Joe Dolce.