End of Life Decisions: Current Western Australian Debate

The Chief Psychiatrist’s position on voluntary assisted dying, as given in evidence to the Western Australian Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices, is summarised below.  Please note that nothing should be taken as explicit or implied support for the legalisation of physician assisted suicide.

The Chief Psychiatrist of Western Australia calls for robust mental health services to be available to individuals requiring palliative care for physical illnesses. Consistent with the RANZCP Position Statement on physician assisted suicide, the Chief Psychiatrist considers that the primary role of medical practitioners in end of life care is to facilitate the provision of high quality patient-centred care.

In the context of any future potential legislation regarding voluntary assisted dying, the following principles apply:

  • mental illness, ‘demoralisation’ or ‘loss of hope’ must never be a legislated reason to allow assisted suicide
  • mental illnesses must not be classified as terminal illnesses for the purposes of legislation
  • any legislation regarding assisted suicide must ensure an extremely robust assessment of capacity and screening for mental illness
  • psychiatrists are appropriately qualified to assess capacity
  • no physician must ever be coerced into undertaking an end of life capacity assessment
  • individuals with mental illness have a right to be considered without stigma or discrimination in society.

The Chief Psychiatrist recommends that psychiatrists refer to the RANZCP Position Statement 67 on physician assisted suicide for further information and is available at; 


Reappointment of the Chief Psychiatrist of Western Australia

Her Excellency the Governor of Western Australia has, on the recommendation of the Hon. Roger Cook Minister for Mental Health, appointed Dr Nathan Gibson to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist for a further term of five years commencing on the 29 January 2018.

‘Clinical Care of People Who May Be Suicidal Policy’

The Department of Health’s ‘Clinical Care of People Who May Be Suicidal Policy’ is applicable to Health Service Providers, Contracted Health Entities,  Mental health clinicians and Clinicians in Emergency Departments and other non-mental health settings. When a person has been accepted for care by a mental health service and there consequently exists a duty of care.

DOH Principles and Best Practice for the Care of People Who May Be Suicidal V1.0 (2)

Lives are equal and no-one should live in poverty

Dr Nathan Gibson, Cate Wray, Cindy Branch-Smith and Dr Edward Petch recently took on the 50 kilometre Oxfam Trailwalker Challenge.

Team Psychlists participated in training sessions on the trails over the past three months, increasing fitness, endurance, strengthening legs and toughening toes.

The walk commenced in Chidlow at 8.15am and winds down to Mundaring along the Heritage Trail, in Darlington, before heading south to Helena Valley into Kalamunda.  The home stretch trails in the dark through Mundy Regional Park, eventually reaching the finish line at Federation Gardens in Forrestfield.

The walk was challenging, both psychically and mentally and the team crossed the line in good spirits at 9.54pm in 13 hours 39 minutes.

Thank you to all who donated – Team Psychlists raised $2,640.

We will keep you posted on the ‘next’ challenge.

Innovative Practice Award in the Rotary Allied Health Team Excellence Awards 2017

Graylands Hospital team wins Excellence in Innovative Practice Award.

The Chief Psychiatrist congratulates the team of health professionals and nurse specialists – Andrew Miller ,Barbara Murray, Jess Darmody, Jo Varne, Alan Stone ,Jessica Dennis ,Petra Elias ,Patricia Tran, Ruth Hill ,Rob Miller  and Doreen Sanyika

The winning team  introduced contemporary and progressive mental health practices at Graylands Hospital which have resulted in a reduction in restrictive practices and facilitated recovery opportunities for patients and consumers.

Their innovative practices have involved creating opportunities for meaningful occupation for consumers in order to provide purpose, identity, mastery, ownership, health and well-being. The aim has been to empower consumers to take ownership of their recovery journey, even while in hospital, through instilling a sense of hope and belonging.