Once joined in matrimony, Adele and Victor Stevens now share a garden fence on a quiet suburban street in the Woden Valley.
The ageing neighbours have had their share of arguments since meeting in high school, marrying and separating, but they're both certain of one thing. They want to control the circumstances in which they die, and avoid prolonged pain and suffering.
Adele, an experienced nurse who built a career caring for elderly patients, still remembers her father struggling with dementia in hospital. She remembers him pulling tubes from his body and forgetting where he was, only be reminded repeatedly by those around him.
"I want the ability to end my own life once it has become intolerable," she said.
"But we're having enough trouble legalising gay marriage in this country so god help us with euthanasia, especially when the federal government can override our laws," she said.
Adele, 72, and Victor, 73, are members of a Canberra-based euthanasia group searching for a dying person with a three-to-five year lifespan to challenge the prohibition of assisted suicide in the ACT Supreme Court.
The group, which says it has the support of a Canberra-based lawyer, believes the ACT government's inability to legislate on euthanasia and current laws are a violation of their human rights.
They hope to emulate a landmark 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decision that amended the criminal code to allow certain adults suffering intolerable pain to die with the assistance of doctors.
Dying with Dignity ACT president Jeanne Arthur said the litigant would be subject to medical examinations to confirm their state of health with all legal costs to be covered.
"We have a lawyer who would make the case for us along the lines of the case in Canada, which asserted that a competent person who is dying should be able to get assistance to die and that it is a breach of their human rights not to," she said.
Ms Arthur said she had been in contact with potential litigants although it was difficult to find one willing to spend their final days in court while suffering.
"This is really an example of how cruel the current laws are, as someone would have to be put in such a position to try and change the law," she said.
"We have had people express interest but of course they have to consider how long they have left and how demanding a court case would be. There are always concerns about the money but we are determined to draw on resources."
Ms Arthur said her organisation had been in contact with some health professionals – whom she declined to name – about identifying patients who may be willing to become litigants.
"We asked them as nurses dealing with people at the end of life whether they knew anyone who would be interested and they said they were afraid of losing their job," she said.
"All they needed to do was pass on a name to say they could contact us but they were afraid to do so. That's how serious this matter is.
'If you want to make any legislative changes regarding death it is a serious matter as no one wants to talk about death. Everyone is afraid of death".
Mr Stevens said he was supportive of the legal bid but was not confident it would succeed or that euthanasia would ever become legal in Australia.
"Unlike most people in my group, I don't think we will ever get legislation because the evidence has been constantly rehashed and bills are so easily defeated," he said.
"We are constantly going cap in hand to politicians and they simply go through the motions."
The search for a litigant comes days after a bipartisan private members bill was introduced to parliament to overturn the Andrews Bill, which has prevented the ACT and Northern Territory governments from legislating on euthanasia.
The bipartisan bill has been supported by ACT senator Katy Gallagher and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury who both believe the 1997 law makes territory residents second class citizens.
"Importantly, this legislation does not compel either jurisdiction to legislate for voluntary euthanasia. It simply allows the democratically elected parliaments of the Northern Territory and the ACT the ability to do so if they choose," Ms Gallagher said.
But ACT opposition leader Jeremy Hanson has questioned the necessity of the bill, calling on politicians to prioritise issues that affect a majority of Canberrans.
Ms Arthur disagreed with Mr Hanson's assessment that euthanasia was a fringe issue not worthy of government attention.
"If you look at the statistics, most people who die are older than 55 and at least a third of Canberra's population falls within that age bracket," she said. "How we die is of great importance for a significant part of the territory population."
Craig Wallace, the Canberra-based convenor of Lives Worth Living, said he supported the territory's right to legislate but not the existing arguments for euthanasia.
"I have not been persuaded that there are appropriate safeguards or protections in the legislation brought forward that would prevent the creep of euthanasia to disabled people at risk," he said.
"Many people who acquire disabilities like quadriplegia often think their lives are not worth living but change their minds after receiving proper support."
Mr Wallace, who is also the president of People with Disability Australia, said euthanasia should not be legalised at a time when many with disabilities felt they are not valued by their community and government.
"I am concerned they will be subject to all kinds of pressures and persuasions," he said.
Adele said the majority of Dying with Dignity members in Canberra were tertiary educated with successful professions and were used to having control of their lives.
For some, their support for euthanasia was triggered by watching loved ones or friends battling with terminal illness and pain.
Ms Arthur said her opinion changed after watching a close friend suffer with motor neurone disease and dying over a six-year period.
"I went to see her in hospital but she could barely stand and was wasting away," she said. "I felt a terrible shame that I could not watch her die. She was one of my friends and it was just too painful.
"I felt terribly cowardly and now I feel like I owe it to her to say that there should have been something better for her."
Despite the Andrews Bill, euthanasia has remained a topic of discussion for the Canberra community and politicians for many years.
Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke's group Exit International has hosted workshops in Canberra for elderly and seriously ill people seeking advice on euthanasia.
"The ACT is obviously quite a progressive territory and a place where you will always have progressive initiatives," said the group's Australian coordinator Johannes Klabbers last year.
Former ACT Labor backbencher Mary Porter made end-of-life issues a signature of her decade in the ACT Legislative Assembly, routinely criticising the Andrew Bill.
A peer-review report on euthanasia has been handed to Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Health Minister Simon Corbell but is yet to be released to the public.
While Adele and Victor disagree on the prospect of change in the ACT, they both hope legal euthanasia will be possible during their final days.
"We have always had the same philosophy on this and will continue to remain friends, going to the theatre together on occasion," said Victor. "A number of our friends just ignore the fact we ever got divorced."
Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 131 114; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.