End of Life
Health Issues Centre’s work on end of life has focused on supporting Australians to become better informed about their options and better prepared to manage their own departure (whenever that comes).
HIC has been a key participant in three major Victorian end-of-life policy initiatives:
- The Medical Treatment, Planning and Decisions Act (Vic) that formalises Advance Care Planning as a legally binding document allowing people to specify what they do and don’t want as part of their end-of-life care;
- The Palliative Care framework that seeks to ensure that every Victorian has access to palliative care when and where it is needed;
- The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act that allows Victorians in extreme circumstances to opt for a medically assisted death.
For many cultures, life is a cycle and death is an accepted stage of the journey. But for a lot of Australians – especially those of Anglo-Saxon cultural heritage – death is an uncomfortable mystery.
As a result, Australians are often unprepared for the difficult decisions associated with dying. And sometimes those decisions are left too late, depriving people of choice and leaving it to distraught families to decide without the benefit of knowing their loved ones’ wishes.
Apart from its role in providing policy advice, Health Issues Centre has been an innovator using the arts and culture as a safe way to encourage community conversations on the subject of end of life.
In 2018, Health Issues Centre created and produced the theatrical show “Unspoken”. This comedic performance art event featured comedy performers Born in a Taxi, and toured throughout Victoria bringing an entertaining and light-hearted look at end-of-life issues.
HIC also turned to the arts to create a public conversation around death and dying when it teamed with ICU specialist Associate Professor Charlie Corke – to provoke controversy over his lifelike sculpture “Claire”, an installation featuring an elderly patient in an ICU bed. The installation, displayed at Southbank in Melbourne attracted hundreds of passers-by and a video of the event has since been viewed over 18,000 times on Facebook.