Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Members statements

Nia Sims

Nia Sims

Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan)

Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:

I would like to dedicate my members statement to our friend Nia Sims, who died last week, after accessing voluntary assisted dying.

Nia described herself as a ‘writer, activist, reader, listener, friend, sister, daughter, niece and aunty. Non-practising alcoholic and smoker. Vegetarian, consumer of mental health services, disabled, chronically ill woman from a working-class background Sunshine, Melbourne Australia’.

She was also a warrior.

I met Nia when she contacted me about voluntary assisted dying in 2015. It was clear then she was chronically ill but determined to see voluntary assisted dying become a reality in Victoria. She did.

Since her early 20s, Nia lived with the rare, progressive autoimmune disease scleroderma, which creates scarring of the body’s connective tissues. She would ordinarily spend 16–18 hours per day in bed with around 3 hours on her feet, short of breath and unable to walk far, with limited hand movement, suffering from malnutrition as her gut would not absorb nutrients.

But as some of you will remember she was here for every gruelling hour of the marathon VAD debate. Occasionally, after considerable persuasion, she would rest on a makeshift bed in the library.

I know her presence gave a lot of us the strength to keep pushing. She continued advocating for VAD around the country and was an invaluable part of the Go Gentle team as it rolled out in other states.

She will be dearly missed and I will be forever grateful for meeting her and the friendship that ensued.

To quote Andrew Denton, politics is not just about who has the power; it’s about who turns up. Nia Sims turned up. And she helped change our world for the better.