PM makes suicide prevention a key priority

Mental health and suicide prevention services are key priorities of the Government, says Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Suicide takes far too many Australians, devastating families and local communities.

“One life lost to suicide is one too many, which is why my Government is working towards a zero suicide goal,” said the Prime Minister.

As part of the initiative, the PM has appointed Christine Morgan as the new National Suicide Prevention Adviser.

“Ms Morgan will work with my Department and the Minister for Health to drive a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention, while ensuring prevention services reach Australians that need them and communities are supported,” he said.

The Prime Minster recently addressed the issue in prayer at the Hillsong conference in Sydney.

“Lord, we pray for all of those veterans in our country who are doing it tough,”

“We pray for young people who think about suicide and we pray Lord that you will break the curse of suicide.

“We proclaim it with veterans, we proclaim it with young people, we proclaim it with middle age people going through difficult trials, people suffering from mental health, we pray for remote Indigenous communities, young boys and girls … and we pray for all those families who live with disabilities … we pray you will give them peace and an avalanche of love.

“Lord, we pray for our country and thank you for it. But more than anything else, we thank you for Jesus and his love.”

FamilyVoice Australia National Director Charles Newington praised the move.

“It’s wonderful to see Mr Morrison’s personal interest in these two fields of pain and trauma and his determination to see real change,” Mr Newington said.

“We especially appreciate the recognition of the impact of mental health concerns and suicide upon the natural families of sufferers. We urge the government to ensure that family support be factored into the response.

“The Prime Minister’s prayer over these issues at the Hillsong conference is also very welcome. His example helps people to realise that being a believer is normal and every bit as natural as choosing not to believe in God,” he said.
Addressing 20,000 Christians at the Sydney conference over the weekend, Mr Morrison stated: “I speak about my faith… because I want everyone in this place to feel comfortable about talking about their faith in this country. It’s not a political agenda, it’s just who we are.”

from the desk DDL

Dear friends,

A front-page news story in the Sunday Mail (7/7) informed readers that outlaw motorcycle gangs have their sights on South Australia, anticipating a removal of the current laws against the prostitution trade.

It is outrageous to envisage more law-breakers escalating the degradation and damage done to women in prostitution, and the entrapment of more South Australian daughters - if State Parliament weakens the laws against so-called sex-work.

The proposed ‘decriminalisation’ of the prostitution trade should sound alarm bells among God’s people who are instructed biblically to “defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17). We cannot sit idly and allow Parliament to remove the existing protections afforded by the law, including provisions against pimping, procuring and living off the earnings of prostitution. We do not want more vulnerable South Australian daughters drawn into prostitution and entrapped by that soul-destroying and mind-numbing abuse of the body.

The Christian interest in the protective influence of good public policy is obvious when we recognise we are called biblically to offer “prayers ... for kings and all those in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). Out interest in the protective role of government also arises as we affirm the goodness of civic administration when it operates according to the wisdom of God. Hence, the Apostle Paul rejoiced to describe the conceptual value of government when he stated: “the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing” (Romans 13:6).

It is God’s plan and purpose that we enjoy valuable laws that help protect against harm - as the authorities commend what is right and restrict what is harmful or hurtful.

Indeed the only way to minimise the harm of an inherently damaging and degrading set of behaviours (as are integral to the prostitution trade) is to ensure sensitive but robust laws are retained to curtail those activities.

Hence I’m most grateful to MP Clare Scriven who spoke forthrightly in defence of laws that seek to minimise the harm done through prostitution, when Clare addressed her colleagues recently in the Legislative Council (the Upper House of our South Australian Parliament). Sadly, her valiant efforts, alongside several others, did not persuade enough MPs and therefore the Statutes Amendment (Decriminalisation of Sex Work) Bill has made its way through all stages in the Upper House.

However, if you and other concerned Christians make your views known to Lower House MPs, diplomatically but firmly, the bill can be defeated when debated in the House of Assembly.

To find out more about the proposal, and to better comprehend the immense harm done to women through so-called sex work, I urge you to please attend a briefing we’ve arranged for next Wednesday 17 July, 11 am - 1230 pm at Bethlehem House, Sudholz Place, Adelaide.

This free seminar will be addressed by Paullette Cairns who ministers to women in prostitution, and has first-hand knowledge of their awful situation. At the seminar we will also hear from MPs Clare Scriven and Dennis Hood. A legal critique of the proposed legislation will be shared by lawyer Jonathan Brohier on behalf of Australian Christian Lobby. Finally, I will round off the briefing by describing how best we can connect positively with local MPs in defence of the daughters of South Australia.

For decades, FamilyVoice has served to help God’s people defend women from the madness of legalising the inherently damaging and degrading “trade” of prostitution. Let us once again rally together in defence of the vulnerable.

I pray that Christian leaders will make time to attend this important briefing, or at least would alert others about the meeting.

While the event involves no registration it will be helpful if you could please indicate your availability to my email, ddl@familyvoice.org.au.

Hoping to see you next Wednesday.

Cheerio,
David d’Lima

SA State Director

gender 800

A UK school student who disputed his teacher’s claim that there are more than two genders has been banned from returning to the school.

The 17 year old was disciplined by his teacher after he stated that there are only two genders.

The student was removed from the class and subsequently reprimand by the teacher, which he filmed.

The Standard reports that:

The video begins with the teacher explaining to the boy that there is more than one gender - an opinion “acceptable” to the school.

He goes on to say: "Unlike yours where you say there's no such thing other than male or female - that's not inclusive."

He also says to the teenager: "You're entitled to your opinion", to which the boy responds: "If I am, then why did you kick me out of class? It's not very inclusive."

The teacher replies: "No, I'm sorry, what you were saying is not very inclusive. This is an inclusive school."

Arguing his point the student later says: "I think it's silly to have other than two genders" and that it's “unscientific”.

He continues: "I'm simply saying there are two genders, male or female.

"Anything else is a personal identification."

The teacher later asks: "Could you please keep that opinion to your own house? Not in this school."

The video has been uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed more than a 100,000 times.

An Aberdeenshire council spokesperson claimed the student was not banned from the school.

“The young man in question has not been permanently excluded from Mearns Academy, but rather at the age of 17, has reached the end of his time in compulsory education," they said.

euthanasia 800

The final report by the WA Ministerial Expert Panel on End of Life Choices, chaired by Malcolm McCusker, has recommended a WA assisted suicide bill that has less protections than Victoria.

Unlike in Victoria, their WA model permits doctors to raise the subject of euthanasia with their patients.  FamilyVoice WA Director Darryl Budge has highlighted the high risk of patients being steered into assisted suicide, in a recent media release.

A patient whose death is “reasonably foreseeable” within 12 months can apply, whereas it is six months in Victoria. The panel has thus rejected the advice from AMA (WA) about prognosis: “Death must be imminent within 6 months, as the outcome of the medical condition.  Further, all measures must have been exhausted to remediate the person’s suffering.”

A doctor and a senior clinical nurse may assess a patient for approval, to determine if they have “decision-making capacity”. In Victoria, it is two doctors. More concerningly, the Panel recommended that “neither doctor [nor the senior nurse] is required to be a specialist regarding the person’s disease or illness.” Rather than recommending more palliative care in regional areas, the panel justified these decisions by referring to “the scarcity of medical practitioners in many country districts and towns of Western Australia.”

The panel recommended that mental illness (assuming “decision-making capacity) is not a barrier, but did not set any requirements for expert psychological or psychiatric care in these situations.

Regarding the Victorian assisted suicide law, the former AMA vice-president Stephen Parnis said the fact that 68 “so-called safeguards” were a central pillar of Victoria’s assisted suicide legislation affirms the clear risk of wrongful deaths.

“In order to satisfy the needs or demands of a number of people to be able to take their own life when they choose, we are putting many more frail, vulnerable, dying people at risk. The word ‘dignity’ is bandied about here, as if dignity at the end of life hasn’t existed until this day,” he said. “I’ve assisted thousands of people at the end of their life over 27 years of medical practice. Dignity does not require a lethal potion.”

Legislation is expected to be introduced into the WA Parliament after it resumes from its winter recess on 6th August 2019.

The following is the full open letter by a number of WA palliative care specialists published in May 2019:

The McGowan Government has invited public comment on its discussion paper Ministerial Expert Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying.

We write as WA palliative care specialists whose vocation is caring for those who are dying. Between us, we have been privileged to care for tens of thousands of patients and their families. We would like to explain our position regarding the Government's proposal to legalise euthanasia. In our conversations with our patients, their families, politicians, and even our medical colleagues, we are concerned about the confusion and misunderstanding regarding euthanasia and palliative care.

The confusion starts with the language. The discussion paper uses the term "voluntary assisted dying". This term is ambiguous. It could be used to describe palliative care: we provide assistance to people who are dying. It would be less confusing if the discussion paper were entitled Ministerial Expert Panel on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The older term "mercy killing" has fallen out of use, but is actually a more accurate description than "voluntary assisted dying".

The proposal to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide involves a massive change in the ethics of our society. "Do not kill" is a foundational ethical principle which has been observed by every civilisation for thousands of years.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not medical treatments, and most emphatically not part of palliative care.

We agree with the World Health Organisation statement on palliative care:

  1. Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
  2. Neither hastens nor postpones death;
  3. Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  4. Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
  5. Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death; and
  6. Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient's illness and bereavement.

We support the patient's right to:

  1. Refuse treatment (such as surgery and chemotherapy);
  2. Cease treatment deemed unnecessary (such as kidney dialysis, ventilators and admission to ICU);
  3. Control symptoms (including pain, breathlessness and agitation); and
  4. Choose where they will die.

Most people want to die at home. In Perth we are blessed with an excellent range of palliative care services, whether the patient is in a hospital, a Palliative Care Unit or at home. Sadly, many Western Australians do not have access to these services.

Unlike euthanasia, palliative care aims to provide total care (body, mind and spirit) for patients and support for their families.

With modern medications and procedures, we can almost always control symptoms. In extreme cases, at the request of a dying patient and his or her family, we have occasionally used deep sedation to control symptoms that did not respond to the usual treatment.

Rarely, a patient will say to us, "doctor, I just want to end it all". Contrary to popular opinion, the reason for such requests is not pain, but despair and loneliness also called "existential suffering". Euthanasia is not a treatment for despair and existential suffering. Provision of holistic care by a skilled interdisciplinary team of health professionals enables patients and families to acknowledge and attend to distress within themselves and their relationships. The time before death offers unique opportunities for psychospiritual growth and allows for healing even without a cure.

We agree with the discussion paper that, "too many Western Australians are experiencing profound suffering as they die. This is, in part, due to inequitable access to palliative care".

According to the parliamentary records of 3rd April this year, Western Australia has the lowest proportion of specialist palliative care doctors of any state in Australia. We have 15 full-time equivalents for the state, less than one third the number required to meet national benchmarks.

According to the Honourable Jim Chown, whose motion was supported unanimously, WA needs at least another $100 million per year spent on palliative care for staffing and education, in addition to funding for infrastructure such as palliative care wards and beds.

We do not believe euthanasia or assisted suicide are solutions to suffering. We reaffirm our commitment to our patients: we will continue to care for you to the best of our ability, guided by your choices, but we will not kill you. Although we work in a variety of institutions, these opinions are our own and not necessarily those of our employers.

Prof Douglas Bridge. BMedSc (Hons). MBBS. FRACP, FRCP (UK). FAChPM. DTM&H; Dr Anil Tandon, MBBS, FRACP; Dr Derek Eng, MBBS. FRACGP. FAChPM; Dr Ashwini Davray. MBBS, MD, FRACP. FAChPM; Dr Mary McNulty, MBBS. FAChPM; Nurse Practitioner Giuliana Duffy, MN; Dr Paula Moffat MBBS, FRACP, FAChPM; Dr Alice Phua, MBBS, FAChPM; Nurse Practitioner Lou Angus. MN: Dr Andrew Hart, MBBS. FRACP, FAChPM: Dr Shannyn George, MBBS, FRACP, FAChPM: Dr Sampath Kondasinghe. MBBS, FRACP; Dr Kevin Yuen.MBBS, FAChPM; Nurse Practitioner Natalie Panizza, MN: Penelope Tuffin, Adv Prac Pharm; Dr Ellen Knight. MBBS, FAChPM; A/Prof Alison Parr. MBBS. MSc, FRCP (UK), FRACP, FAChPM; Dr Lisa Cuddeford. MBBS, CCT, MRCPCH, FRACP: Dr Ranbir Dhillon, MBBS, FAChPM; Dr Carolyn Masarei. MBBS, MRCP (UK). PGDipMed(PC), FAChPM; Dr Scott Lee, MBBS, FRACP. FAChPM; Nurse Practitioner Claire Doyle. MN

 

Felix Ngole

In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal has upheld the rights of UK Christians to freely express their faith by handing victory to former student social worker Felix Ngole.

Overturning a High Court decision to uphold Felix’s expulsion from Sheffield University, the crucial outcome represents a major development of the law. It is now clear that Christians have the legal right to express Biblical views on social media and elsewhere in public without fear for their professional careers.

This is the first Court of Appeal judgment regarding freedom of expression of Biblical views which sets limits on the rights of professional regulators to limit free speech on social media. The ruling is an authoritative statement of the law, likely to be relied upon in hundred of current and future cases.

Expelled for quoting the Bible

Felix was expelled in 2016 from his social work course at the University of Sheffield after quoting Bible verses on Facebook that were deemed critical of homosexuality.

In 2015, he had entered into a discussion on Facebook over the imprisonment of Kim Davies, the Kentucky marriage registrar jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. During a vigorous online political debate, many views were exchanged on the Christian faith. A devout Christian, Felix quoted Bible verses affirming the traditional Christian opposition to same-sex marriage and of the sinful nature of homosexual activity.

Some months later, Felix was reported anonymously to the University of Sheffield by a fellow student and was subsequently disciplined in a Fitness to Practice hearing. He was informed that he had brought the social work profession into disrepute and was then expelled from the course, losing the career he had worked so hard for.

'Lacking insight'

In the court hearings, the University argued that Felix had ‘lacked insight’ into the effect of his posts on social media. During his Fitness to Practice hearing, the University had told him that the expression of his Christian views was unacceptable and was effectively told either to renounce his faith or stay silent on pain of losing his career. Yet Felix says he felt he could not surrender his faith.

In some shocking exchanges from the High Court hearing, the University of Sheffield implied that Felix was not allowed to express the Christian viewpoint on same-sex marriage or homosexuality on any public forum, including in a church.

However, the Court of Appeal held that it was the university that was ‘lacking insight’ in not understanding a Christian viewpoint.

In addition, the Court of Appeal lavished praise on Christian Concern co-founder Pastor Ade Omooba MBE for urging that the university sought caution and compromise.

Sharing faith is not discriminatory
The Court of Appeal condemned the position of the university whereby people would live in fear if private expressions of views were overheard and could be reported anonymously.

The Court ruled that: “The mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that 'homosexuality is a sin') does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds.” It was further recognised that Felix had never been shown to act in a discriminatory fashion.

The outcome of this case will have significant implications not only for Christian freedom of speech, but in relation to all free speech. For example, comments made by people on social media (often many years ago) have recently been arbitrarily used to silence viewpoints that people dislike or disagree with.

“My personal loss is gain for future Christians”

Commenting on his win, Felix said: “This is great news, not only for me and my family, but for everyone who cares about freedom of speech, especially for those working in or studying for caring professions. As Christians we are called to care for and serve others, and publicly and privately we must be free to express our beliefs, especially when asked, without fear of losing our livelihoods.

“"I have suffered tremendously as a result of how I was treated by the University of Sheffield and I feel that four years of my life have been taken away from me. Despite all this, I feel overwhelming joy that what I have lost will be so much gain to Christians today and in the future as a result of this important ruling for freedom.”

A message of freedom

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Felix, said: “This is a watershed case for Christians and a resounding victory for freedom of speech.

“We are delighted that the court of Appeal has seen the importance of this case and made a ruling that accords with common sense. It is shocking that the university sought to censor expression of the Bible in this way, and we hope this sends out a message of freedom across all universities and professions that Christians and others should be allowed to express their views without fear of censorship or discipline.

“Due to Felix's sacrifice, Christians and others now know that it is their legal right to express Biblical views on social media or elsewhere without fear for their professional careers. This is a major development of the law and must be upheld and respected in current and future Christian freedom cases.

“Despite this victory, this is not the end of Felix’s fight for justice. He must now go back to a University of Sheffield panel who will judge, in light of this outcome, his fitness to practice as a social worker. Full justice must be served and the University held to account so that this kind and compassionate man can finally work in a job that reflects his qualifications and his ability, professionally and as a person. Our communities and the most vulnerable in our society need more Christian professionals like Felix, not less.”