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VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING LAWS USED BY 124 VICTORIANS IN FIRST YEAR

By Australian Newsletter

More than 300 people have applied to end their lives in Victoria since the state’s voluntary assisted dying laws came into effect in June last year, and at least 124 have done so. The Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Review Board’s inaugural annual report, tabled in state parliament, shows 124 terminally ill Victorians legally ended their lives between June 19 last year and June 30 this year, swamping Premier Daniel Andrews’s June 2019 estimate of “around a dozen” people using the laws to die in their first year of existence. Permits to obtain lethal medication were issued to 231 people over the same period. The numbers have prompted concern from a group of eminent doctors, who say the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted inadequacies in the aged-care system and state Department of Health and Human Services which give little cause for confidence in VAD safeguards administered by DHHS.

The Australian Care Alliance, which opposes VAD, said the report raised “far more questions” than it answered. It said it was unclear how many doctors had participated in the process of sanctioning deaths under the laws, how long deaths took if there were complications in the dying process, how many of those who died were alone, and what proportion of applicants underwent palliative care assessment and treatment prior to opting for VAD. Emergency physician and former AMA vice-president Stephen Parnis said the pandemic had made clear that regulations governing aged care were “hopelessly inadequate”. “How can we have any confidence that the so-called safeguards for the dying are any better?” Dr Parnis asked. Geriatrician Mark Yates said professionals charged with the delivery of safe, ethical care for the frail and aged felt “unsupported in the current environment”.

Specialist physician John Daffy said Victorians had been promised dramatic improvement in palliative care services when the VAD laws passed in 2017. “In the three years since that promise, little has changed,’’ Dr Daffy said. “Access to palliative care has not improved, and VAD should not be the only option.’’ Self-administration permits for lethal medication were issued to 201 applicants and practitioner administration permits were issued to 30, while 134 applications were withdrawn due to the death of the applicant. Medication was dispensed to 154 people for self-administration, with 104 applicants dying by their own hand and 20 having the lethal medication administered by a medical practitioner. Forty-six people ended their lives under the laws between June 19 and December 31 last year, while 78 did so in the first six months of this year. The average age of those who died was 71, with ages ranging between 32 and 100.

Of those who died, 78 per cent had been diagnosed with a malignant condition. Half of all applicants proceeded from their first request to begin being assessed for eligibility to their final request for the medication within 19 days, with most permits then issued within two days. To be eligible for voluntary assisted dying, Victorians need to show evidence they have an incurable and advanced disease, illness or medical condition that is expected to cause death within six months (or within 12 months for a neurodegenerative condition). They also need to prove they are experiencing suffering they consider “intolerable”, have decision making capacity, are an adult, and an Australian citizen or permanent resident who has lived in Victoria for at least 12 months. Last December, Western Australia became the second Australian jurisdiction to pass voluntary assisted dying laws.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ONE NATION ANNOUNCES A PRO-LIFE POLICY

By Australian Newsletter

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has announced a specific pro-life policy which acknowledges the scientific fact that a human being’s life begins in the womb. The policy was announced prior to the recent Queensland election with a promise to roll back what they referred to as Queensland Labor’s ‘brutal and extreme abortion law’. The policy seeks to:-

Reduce abortion gestational limits,

Ban sex-selective abortion,

Provide medical care for babies born alive during an abortion,

Provide pain-relieving anesthesia to babies prior to an abortion,

Restore medical professional’s full right to a conscientious objection,

Ban aborted baby organ harvesting,

Improve data reporting.

It is hoped that the policy will be retained into the future and was not an election specific policy designed as a strategic move to improve their electoral support prior to the Queensland election. In Queensland both the Liberal National Party and the Katter Australia Party also committed pre-election to review or roll back Labor’s Termination of Pregnancy Act (2018). Commitments such as these from Australian political parties and sitting members is an Australian first and a major step forward in the protection of every human life. Tireless campaigning from thousands of Queenslanders is reaping encouraging rewards.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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FEATURE ARTICLE – EVAN ROBERTS AND THE WELSH REVIVAL

By Feature Articles

Evan Roberts was the central figure in the Welsh Revival, in Wales, often described as one of the purest, movements of the Holy Spirit in the history of the church.  Evan grew up in a coal mining community and quit school to become a coal miner at the age of twelve. At thirteen Evan Roberts received Christ as his Saviour. In his teens, he would attend every prayer meeting he could find, often, 6 out of 7 days a week.  He read and heard about some of the great revivals that had occurred in Wales and other places and became obsessed with the subject. He stated, “I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals.” As a young man he was once forced out of his rented room by his landlady, who would hear him pray and preach in his room for hours on end, and concluded he was dangerous and quite likely insane.

At the age of 25 he woke up one night and found himself in the presence of God. His fellowship with God was so real, he stated:  “I found myself with unspeakable joy and awe in the presence of the almighty God … I was privileged to speak face-to-face with him as a man speaks face-to-face with a friend.” This deep communion went on for four hours, and then he fell asleep again. He was surprised to find that the same experience occurred the next night, again resulting in an extraordinary fellowship with God that lasted again for four hours. This continued every night for the next three months, as God revealed Himself in dramatic fashion to this young man, preparing him for his great calling that lay ahead.

Even after these experiences with Christ he continued to be burdened for more of God. He spoke with his friends and wrote, “I have built the altar, and laid the wood in order, and have prepared the offering; I have only to wait for the fire.”  He understood that fire falls on sacrifice.  Roberts attended a series of small meetings held nearby by the famous evangelist, Seth Joshua. Seth was also a man of prayer and used to prayer walk for hours asking the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers into his harvest fields.  The Lord answered his prayer by raising up Evan Roberts. Seth prayed at the end of one of the services, “O God, bend us.” These words shook Evan Roberts to the core. Roberts recorded, “I felt a living power pervading my soul… It took my breath away and my legs trembled exceedingly.”

Roberts went on “This living power became stronger and stronger as each one prayed, until I felt it would tear me apart, I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me. My face was bathed in perspiration, and the tears flowed in streams. I cried out, “Bend me, bend me!” It was God’s commending love which bent me, what a wave of peace flooded my bosom…” This mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit transformed Evan. Before that time, he was quite serious and had a gloomy personality, but after this he radiated joy. Before he had been a timid and hesitant speaker, but now spoke with an authority and boldness that could hardly be resisted.  During a church service soon afterwards, Roberts saw a vision of himself speaking to the young people at his home church in Loughor and decided to head home.

His parents were puzzled to see their son home from college, and more puzzled still when he announced he had come to speak to the church (without being invited by the pastor) and was considering going through all Wales preaching and soul winning. The pastor of their home church didn’t quite know what to do with Evan. He decided to play it safe and allowed Evan to speak only after the main prayer meeting was over. Sixteen people and one little girl decided to stay and hear what he had to say.  Roberts wasted no time in getting to the heart of his message. He spoke about a fullness of the Holy Spirit that was available for Christians, but declared that they must fulfil four conditions:

  • Confess all known sin to God.
  • Put away all doubtful habits.
  • Obey the Holy Spirit promptly.
  • Confess Christ publicly.

On that first night, October 31st 1904, his teaching was accompanied with a deep sense of Holy Spirit conviction. By the end of the night all sixteen young people and adults had confessed Christ. So powerful was this first meeting that Roberts was given a second night to share, and then a third.  In one of those early meetings, Evan led the small group of people in what he called a chain prayer. He began by praying: “Send the Spirit now for Jesus Christ’s sake.” He then told everyone else in attendance to pray the same prayer out loud, one at a time. And so the prayer went around the room. After they had all prayed, Evan started a new section of the prayer: “Send the Spirit powerfully now for Jesus Christ’s sake.” Again, the prayer went around the room.

Now as it was being prayed, the Holy Spirit began to fall on some of those in attendance. Evan prayed again: “Send the Spirit more powerfully now for Jesus Christ’s sake.” After that prayer went around the room, Evan prayed the final section of his prayer: “Send the Spirit still more powerfully now for Jesus Christ’s sake.” That chapel meeting went on for hours and hours. Within the next few days, hundreds of people were attending the meetings. Within a few more days, a massive revival swept across Wales; changing the entire culture of the country and spreading to nations all across the earth.  He continued to lead meetings in his hometown each night at nearby churches and saw a total of 65 conversions that week.

Some of the meetings in the early weeks of the revival started at 7:00pm and continued on without any breaks until 4:30am the next morning. After just two months of meetings (from November 8 to December 31st 1904), there were over 34,000 conversions recorded. Two months after that, by February 28, 1905, there were 84,000 conversions recorded. It was an average of over 5,000 conversions a week!  From Wales, the revival began to spread to scattered cities in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man. It also spread as far as New Zealand, Madagascar, India, North America and Mexico, along with several countries within Europe, Asia, and Africa.  There was also great cultural transformation in Wales as the revival spread.

Shops closed down early so the workers could get a seat at the revival meetings. Bibles flew off the shelves in the bookstores. Longstanding debts were paid off, drunkenness and crime drastically declined, and relationships were reconciled. One night at a football game, the whole crowd broke out singing one of the revival worship songs!  So radical was the change in the coal miners that there was a slowdown in the mines. The pit ponies, so used to being cursed at and screamed at by the ungodly miners couldn’t figure out what to do when their transformed masters spoke kindly to them.”  Over a three-year period, approximately 250,000 souls came to Christ as a direct result of the Welsh Revival. After these revival years, Evan Roberts stepped down from public ministry and dedicated himself to a life of intercession. He wrote in one of his journals, “Before men I might reach a limited few, but before God I could reach the whole world!”

Source:  Dr Jason Hubbard – Executive Coordinator International Prayer Connections

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AUSTRALIANS PRAYING MORE DURING COVID 19

By Australian Newsletter

Churches may have closed their doors, but more Australians are opening their minds to spirituality and prayer.  Researchers have found Australians say they have been praying more during the COVID-19 crisis, suggesting the pandemic has led many to reassess their priorities in life. Katie Stringer from Leichhardt in Sydney, a teacher and mother of three children aged from 6 to 13, said she and her family had been praying more at home together during the pandemic. They read passages from the Bible during family meals and in the car during school drop-off. Mrs Stringer said the closure of their local Anglican church forced them to “assess their spiritual connection”.  “It reminded us our faith is also our responsibility and not just the responsibility of the minister in our church,” she said. “We needed to be proactive in talking to God.”

Social researcher Mark McCrindle surveyed 1002 people and found more than a third (35 per cent) said they were praying more and 41 per cent were thinking about God more. A quarter said they were reading the Bible more. Nearly a half (47 per cent) said they had thought more about their mortality and the meaning of life. “The research is showing that this COVID situation has rattled Australians and got them thinking about the big purpose of life,” Mr McCrindle said. “It’s got them re-prioritising their life.” Charles Sturt University Associate Professor Ruth Powell, who studies Australian spirituality said she was not surprised by the survey results. Her own research as director of the National Church Life Survey has shown a third of Australians pray or meditate “in normal times”. “In this context when a proportion say I think I am praying more, it’s not surprising if it has been heightened at this time,” she said.

“What we know from our own research is that Australians are already moderately religious or spiritual. “It’s often in times of crisis that you do go to the big spiritual questions.”  Macquarie University Professor Marion Maddox, an authority on the intersection of religion and politics, said it was not surprising many people would be thinking more about their spirituality and mortality during an existential crisis. “The bushfires would have had similar effects of making people think about the meaning and purpose of life or questions about environmental concerns and our relationship to the human world,” she said. “It’s at the same time that churches and places of collective worship are closing, so people aren’t able to gather and do their spiritual reflection as easily together. They can do it online, but it’s not quite the same.”

Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead said he has received anecdotal feedback that parishioners were reading the Bible and praying more. “The enforced slow down and isolation of the COVID restrictions have meant that people have been forced to step off the treadmill and realise there is more to life than the endless grind of work and pursuit of material ends,” he said. “It has given people an opportunity to reflect more deeply on what is the ultimate meaning of life and hence to dig into spiritual resources to help answer those kind of questions. “There is a degree where we are all thinking about our own mortality now and that is forcing a reconnection back to God.”  Brian Houston, Senior Pastor at Hillsong Church said he had no doubt more people were asking questions about faith and their relationship with God during the pandemic. He said the availability of church online had made services “more accessible to people in the privacy of their own homes”.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher welcomed the McCrindle survey saying “when you consider that only 16% of the population attends church regularly and we’ve got more than 25% praying more during this period it shows there’s a level of spiritual practice in Australia, beyond what might get measured by church attendance”.  Professor Stephen Pickard, director of the Public and Contextual Theology Research Centre at Charles Sturt University said for some, the coronavirus pandemic was a time for slowing down, welcome solitude and more time with family. But for others, it was a time of loneliness, isolation, fear and financial hardship. He said the McCrindle survey suggested that sustained periods of isolation had been conducive to prayer and the discovery of spiritual resources people may not have realised they had. The stress of the coronavirus pandemic had “opened up a crack in the universe as we know it” and for some “a window to God’s presence that we hadn’t anticipated”.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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TASMANIAN ASSISTED DYING BILL PASSES UPPER HOUSE

By Australian Newsletter

On 11 November we remember those who died so that we might live. The Tasmanian Upper House on that day last week voted to enable those who live to encourage people to die. Mr Christopher Brohier, the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) Tasmanian Director said “It is sad that without proper thought or scrutiny, the Tasmanian Upper House has passed Mike Gaffney’s End of Life Bill. The Tasmanian Lower House must now exercise the rigour that was lacking in the Upper House to properly interrogate this Bill.” “The ACL welcomes Premier Gutwein’s announcement that an independent review panel will consider the amended bill and advise parliament next year.  “This is the careful and independent scrutiny that this flawed Bill should have been given in the Upper House.

The ACL has been calling for such a review for months now. We are very pleased that the Premier has shown leadership on this critical issue for all Tasmanians. “The review should be designed to take submissions from the public and stakeholders. “Liberal party members will have a conscience vote on the Bill. We call upon the Australian Labor Party to allow their members a proper conscience vote.” The ACL calls on all Members of the House of Assembly to closely examine the Bill for risks to the elderly and vulnerable, and not to be rushed into supporting it on the basis of emotive arguments.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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