9 Oct 2018

Margaret O'Connor


In 2017, Victoria became the first Australian state to legislate for Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD). While most people who qualify for access to VAD will require palliative care, the way that palliative care services respond to requests for VAD are not clear.

Professor Margaret O’Connor AM, a Balwyn local, has received the Dr Dorothea Sandars and Irene Lee Churchill Fellowship because of her motivation to travel overseas and bring back ideas for addressing people's end-of-life needs, in relation to accessing palliative care and managing requests for VAD. 

Professor O’Connor will travel to the USA, Canada, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands to observe how other countries, which have legalised assisted dying, have incorporated VAD into their health care systems. As Victoria implements the Vic Act, it is constructive to view how other countries have implemented this contentious topic successfully.   

Professor O’Connor, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at Monash University and Research Consultant at Melbourne City Mission Palliative Care, is dedicated to ensuring people living their final days are living them in the way they wish. 

“The Fellowship will enable me to fulfil my motivation to assist people in living their final days the way they wish and with the best possible quality of life,” said Professor O’Connor.

“I am looking forward to understanding how assisted dying has been incorporated into international health care systems, and looking at the accountability reporting structures of the governance models. 

“I also hope to build connections with clinicians in other countries who grapple with end-of-life issues, and listening to others’ experiences of implementing similar legislation. I intend to return with an overview of different aspects of assisted dying that could be of benefit in Australia as we implement the Victorian legislation.” 

“This is a terrific opportunity for Professor O’Connor to bring back to Australia valuable knowledge about addressing such a sensitive and important current issue in Australia,” said Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. 

“We look forward to seeing what Professor O’Connor will learn and can achieve as a result of her Fellowship experience.” 

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