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Presentation to look at end-of-life issues


Zuleika Henderson
8 November 2010
The ethical issues and decisions surrounding the end stage of our lives will be tackled in the latest presentation in Southern Cross University’s Professorial Lecture Series.

The final presentation of the 2010 Professorial Lecture Series will be held at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus on Thursday 11 November at 5pm QLD time (6pm NSW time) with a video-link to SCU Lismore and Coffs Harbour.

Professor Colleen Cartwright said the presentation, entitled ‘Ethical Decision Making: End of Life Issues and Advance Care Planning,’ would address the fears and concerns many of us have about the end stage of our lives.

“This presentation is aimed at members of the public, health professionals, counselors and legal practitioners, and will consider a range of issues related to end-of-life decision-making, including the use of medical technology - and in particular, the confusion that still exists around what is and is not euthanasia,” said Professor Cartwright.

“We are still seeing cases where pain relieving drugs are not prescribed because they could also hasten a patient’s death, or people are left hooked up to life support machines because the medical staff involved are unclear about the legal and ethical implications of when the machine can be turned off.

“I’ll be exploring the dominant ethical principals in Western society and what the ethics are around making end-of-life decisions.

“We will also look at how Advance Care Planning can help to address people’s fears and concerns, and the legal mechanisms in place in NSW and Queensland to enable such planning.”

Professor Cartwright is Foundation Professor of Aged Services and Director of the ASLaRC Aged Services Unit in the Health and Wellbeing Research Cluster at Southern Cross University.

She is also Adjunct Professor in the UNSW Faculty of Medicine, Rural Clinical School. Her work encompasses ageing issues relating to both well and frail older people the challenges of an ageing population and affordable housing for older people.

She designed the Advance Health Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney forms that are part of
the Queensland Powers of Attorney Act (1998) and adapted these for use in NSW. She regularly runs information and training sessions for community and health professional groups on ethical and legal issues, including advance care planning, informed consent and capacity.

“Planning for times when individuals are unable to speak for themselves because of accident or illness can be a confronting issue, but one that is important to address,” said Professor Cartwright.

“People can ensure they get the treatment they want through use of Advance Health Care Directives and Enduring Guardianship.

“We want to raise awareness within the general community and in the legal and medical world about people’s rights and what legal mechanisms exist in relation to medical decisions at the end-of-life.”

The final presentation of the 2010 Professorial Lecture Series will be held on Thursday 11 November at 5pm QLD time (6pm NSW time) in room A204 at Southern Cross University, Gold Coast campus, Southern Cross Drive, Bilinga and will be video-linked to R106 at Lismore and MLG13 at Coffs Harbour. Light refreshments will be provided.

To attend RSVP to 02 6620 3503 or 0407 906606 or email [email protected] Photo: Professor Colleen Cartwright will give a presentation on the Gold Coast this week (high resolution image available on request).