House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Statements by Members

Brooke, Mr Don

1:45 pm

Photo of Peta MurphyPeta Murphy (Dunkley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Twenty years ago Don Brooke had throat cancer; he survived. Ten years ago Don had prostate cancer; he survived. In March this year, pancreatic cancer was strike 3; this time the treatment didn't work. When Don only had months to live, he and his wife, Helga, needed to obtain the pension for the first time in their lives, as Helga was now Don's full-time carer. It was so much harder than it should ever be for anyone, let alone someone who just wanted to make sure his wife was financially stable when he was gone and not left unable to pay the medical costs for his palliative care. That's how I came to know Don, when his granddaughter asked for help so he didn't have to spend more of the finite time he had left on the computer, rifling through paperwork and not getting people on the phone at Services Australia. We got it sorted in time—a bittersweet victory, because he shouldn't have needed my help. Don's wife, Helga, wants people to know he had always wanted to go on his own terms, and Victoria's voluntary assisted dying scheme gave him that at the end. It gave him the dignity of dying as the remarkable husband, father, and pop that he was. It gave a modicum of peace to his family, knowing that he was in control and that the disease that was killing him wasn't able to kill his sense of self. Don's family thanked the leaders of Victoria for making it possible. Don died peacefully earlier this week at his home in Langwarrin, surrounded by family and those who loved him. He was beat but not beaten, and voluntary assisted dying gave him that.