Euthanasia debate hits home for Bega Valley locals

Paul Scherek and Michaela Samman say personal grief has motivated them to speak out on behalf of the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.

Paul Scherek and Michaela Samman say personal grief has motivated them to speak out on behalf of the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.

BEGA Valley locals Paul Scherek and Michaela Samman have joined one of Australia's newest political parties, the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP).

Their decision is a result of the traumatic experience of watching their, respectively, brother and father die of prolonged, painful and incurable leukaemia with numerous complications, and dementia/Parkinson’s disease. 

The lead Upper House candidate for VEP in the upcoming NSW election is Shayne Higson, who lost her mother to brain cancer in 2012.

She said she can relate to Mr Scherek and Ms Samman’s experiences.

"A painful and distressing death is terrible, not only for the patient but for the entire family,” Ms Higson said.

“Sadly these experiences are not uncommon, and it's something that no individual or family should have to go through.”

Ms Samman described Bill Samman and Ray Scherek as fine, compassionate, good men, loving and proud. 

“Both men succumbed to years of terribly cruel, debilitating illness…and were powerless to find relief from pain and indignity,” she said.

“Neither deserved such prolonged suffering.”

Mr Scherek contrasted this with the death of his mother from cancer many years ago. 

A compassionate doctor gave his father the means of ending her suffering and, on the night, he and his brothers had the final chance to say thank you and good bye.

“She passed serenely in her own home surrounded by love,” Mr Scherek said.

“Our chance is now at the polls, to speak up and be counted - for the sake of choice and true compassion."

Like all VEP members, Paul and Michaela decided to become politically active out of frustration.

"Polls consistently show that around 80 per cent of Australians support voluntary assisted dying law reform, yet our politicians have failed to act on this issue,” Ms Samman said.

“We need to send them a clear message in this election so that dying people have a choice."

"Anyone who has watched someone they love suffer pointlessly at the end of their life understands why we need to change the law," Ms Higson added.

“Now is the time to make a difference.”

The VEP will not be contesting any Lower House seats in NSW. 

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