PHOTO: Pat Allen thinks it is an individual's own personal choice to end their own life if the pain is too much.(ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Talking to a group of elderly people in central Victoria about assisted dying, it becomes clear the issue is on their minds.
Victoria could become the first state in Australia to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill, with a bill to be introduced to Parliament this year.
Residents the ABC spoke to at an aged care facility run by Inglewood and Districts Health Service in central Victoria had mixed opinions about the issue, but most supported legalising assisted dying.
Pat Allen, 85, has lived in the aged care hostel in Inglewood for the past three years after being diagnosed with emphysema.
She smoked heavily for 60 years.
Ms Allen needs oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of her life. Without it, she cannot breathe and gasps for air.
"It's not a good feeling to know you can't breathe. That's one of the worst feelings of all," she said.
A firm believer in assisted dying if monitored "very closely" and in consultation with a doctor, Ms Allen said it was about quality of life.
"It's your own personal choice to end [your life], and particularly if you're very sick and in a lot of pain," Ms Allen said.
"I think it's necessary, and it shouldn't take long to do. If I was in a lot of pain I would want it done now when I decided to do it."
Choice to die is 'no-one else's business'
Joan Ridgeway thinks people have the right to die with dignity, and supports assisted dying. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Joan Ridgeway, 81, has spent more than 10 years in the aged care hostel after breaking her hip, leaving her unable to look after herself.
She is happy living at the hostel but has strong opinions about legalising assisted dying, after watching her husband die of bowel cancer.
"It was terrible to watch him, just terrible. He was in a lot of pain," Ms Ridgeway said.
"If you've got too much pain and you've had enough I think you're quite entitled to finish it if you want to.
"I think it's no-one else's business and God doesn't always do it for you.
"I just think you should be able to die with dignity and not have the government interfere with your life and tell you when you've got to go."
To those opposed to assisted dying, she has one simple message.
"But there for the grace of God. Walk in someone else's shoes who's in pain or in agony or who's got cancer. It's very bad," Ms Ridgeway said.
'Go to sleep and stop asleep'
Joyce Keller supports legalising assisted dying. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Joyce Keller, 86, has lived in the hostel for the past two years after falling out of bed and being unable to get back up.
She loves her life in the hostel and is very happy.
"It's a wonderful place to be looked after and you're not on your own," Ms Keller said.
Not having thought much about the issue of assisted dying, she is still in favour of it.
"If you can't get better there's no sense in living, I suppose. As far as I am concerned, you may as well go to sleep and stop asleep," she laughed.
Issue needs to be tackled with caution
John Malherbe watched his wife die in pain due to kidney failure. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
John Malherbe, 88, has been in the hostel for about three years after "not doing very well" alone in his home, after his wife died several years earlier from kidney failure.
He describes the experience of watching her die as "absolutely, terrifyingly horrible".
"We both knew what was going on. Basically her kidneys were useless and there was not much that could be done about that," Mr Malherbe said.
Because his wife was in a lot of pain, the pair "thought very deeply" about the possibility of ending her life.
"Because she was in such agony, which is mental as well as physical," Mr Malherbe said.
An advocate for assisted dying, Mr Malherbe said the issue needed to be "tackled with extreme caution".
"Because it could otherwise lead to plain, simple murder, but if somebody needs and wants to die, I think they should be allowed to do that or get other people to help them do so," he said.
'If you were a dog they would put you down'
Jaci Ayres needs to be on oxygen all the time. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Jaci Ayres, 61, was diagnosed with chronic emphysema about five years ago and given two years to live.
Living in the nursing home, she is on oxygen 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is "endlessly" in pain.
"It's like having someone put a block of concrete on your chest, all day and all night," Ms Ayres said.
Helped along by a "large amount" of morphine to manage the pain, she is still not immune to the occasional major attack that consists of stabbing chest pains.
At the moment the pain is manageable, but she would like to have the option to take her life if the pain becomes unbearable.
"When the time comes I want to be able to say, 'Right, that's it, out of here we go — off we go to wherever you go after you leave here'," Ms Ayres said.
"Why do you have to suffer these things?
"If you were a dog they would put you down. It's your right to decide this."
'I'll go the way that God intended me to go'
Arthur Martin does not support legalising assisted dying. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Arthur Martin, 74, has been in the nursing home for the past two months after suffering a stroke, leaving the left side of his body feeling numb, but it is "coming good".
The former truck driver and diabetic is no stranger to hospital visits, having previously recovered from a triple bypass and having both his legs amputated after a truck accident about 10 years ago.
Mr Martin's mother lived until she was 92, and he said he had a "long way to go".
He does not support assisted dying, preferring people die "naturally".
"[Assisted dying] shouldn't be on anybody's conscience, definitely not," he said.
"I'll go the way that God intended me to go, I reckon."
Not a choice for Government to make
Laura Bradley thinks the Government does not have the right to stop people from ending their pain. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Laura Bradley, 92 was admitted to the Inglewood nursing home two years ago after falling and breaking her knee, making it impossible to walk.
While happy with her life, she thinks people should have the right to take their own life if they want to, but acknowledges it is "pretty big" decision to make.
"I want to live as long as I can but I don't want pain," Ms Bradley said.
"If a dog or animal is that way they can't suffer more pain, they put them down."
She does not think the Government should "stick their beaks in".
"As long as you've got your mind about you, it's still your decision [to end your life], and I don't reckon anyone should take your decision from you if you don't want," Ms Bradley said.
Why should people have to suffer?
Alwyn Clarke thinks people have the right to end their lives if the pain becomes unbearable. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Alwyn Clarke, 80, was finding it increasingly difficult to look after himself and was admitted to the hostel about six months ago.
Mr Clarke also suffers from chronic pain from his sciatic nerve, which is controlled by changing medication.
He supports assisted dying if people are in extreme pain, and said it was something he had thought about "over and over again".
"[People] should be allowed to do what they want to do. I'm all for it. Why should they have to suffer?" Mr Clarke said.
"I wouldn't hesitate. There's got to be a point where people deserve it, really.
"Why suffer? I mean god, you have enough through your lifetime, all the woes and whatever."