Diocesan leader shares fears now voluntary assisted dying becomes legal in NSW

Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Administrator, Fr Greg Barker, has shared his fears and sadness that the ‘sanctity of life is being diminished’. His statements come on the back of the NSW Parliament passing legislation overnight, which legalises voluntary assisted dying.

“It is a terrible day for our State,” Fr Barker said.  



Fr Greg expressed a multitude of concerns, including for workers who will be asked to enforce the new laws, which are expected to take up to 18 months to come into effect.

“I fear for those in health care who may be asked to go against their conscience,” he said.

Fr Greg added that the passing of the legislation, which will allow terminally ill adults to choose to end their life, may also be used against them.

“I fear for those who may be at the end of their lives and could now be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, in a final act of indignity and abuse.”

Fr Greg also acknowledged the impact that this landmark decision will have on those who have dedicated themselves to providing end of life care.

“I fear for what it says of our wonderful palliative care doctors, nurses and support personnel who have committed themselves to caring for those at the end of their life.”

He said that proper and effective palliative care gives death with dignity.

“I fear for those amongst us who view all pain and suffering as a loss of dignity rather than as a gift and grace for those whose vocation it is to love, care and support those who are most in need.”

All NSW members of parliament were given a conscience vote on the proposed legislation. After 10 hours of debate, the The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 passed in the NSW Upper House 23 votes to 15, making the way for it to be passed in the Lower House.

Fr Greg said that communities and leaders are judged on the level of care they offer for the most vulnerable members under their mandate, including the very elderly and ill.

“I thank those who have been a voice against the bill, including elected representatives who voted against it,” he said.

“I will continue to pray, as I ask you too, for those who choose leadership; to pray for their intrinsic goodness, for their goodwill and their ongoing commitment to service, service of all,” Fr Greg said.

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