Victoria’s landmark voluntary assisted dying laws come into effect this week.
The historic legislation was passed by the Victorian Parliament in 2017, giving Victorians with a terminal illness a genuine, compassionate choice about the timing and manner of their death. From Wednesday, Victorians who are suffering with a terminal illness will be able to make an initial request to access voluntary assisted dying.
The voluntary assisted dying model is the safest and most conservative in the world. The safeguards include:
- Only adults with decision-making capacity, who are suffering and have an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition that is likely to cause death within six months (or 12 months for people with neurodegenerative conditions) can access the scheme
- A person may only access voluntary assisted dying if they meet all of the strict eligibility criteria, make three clear requests and have two independent medical assessments that determine they are eligible
- The request must always be initiated by the person themselves, with health practitioners who are treating the person and raise the issue subject to unprofessional conduct investigations.
About 100 doctors including GPs, cancer specialists and palliative care clinicians from right around the state are already undertaking mandatory, specialist training to ensure they’re equipped to assess a patient’s eligibility to access voluntary assisted dying. About a third of all participating doctors practise in regional Victoria.
A Melbourne-based pharmacy service will become the sole service for dispensing voluntary assisted dying medications across Victoria, ensuring patients are provided clear information regarding administration, and that unused medications are returned and destroyed.
For people too sick to travel, the pharmacy service will deliver them their medication and provide information on administration – and then collect any unused medication.
While we implement Voluntary Assisted Dying, we are also boosting palliative care, with this year’s Budget providing $72 million to improve end of life choices, including support for home-based palliative care in rural and regional Victoria.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, chaired by former Supreme Court Judge Betty King QC, will review every instance of voluntary assisted dying being accessed, ensuring the highest safety standards are met.
As noted by Premier Daniel Andrews
“A person’s quality of death is part of their quality of life – and everyone deserves a genuine, compassionate choice.”
“This is the most conservative model of its kind in the world. We know that only a small number of people will choose to access voluntary assisted dying, but it will make a world of difference for those who do.”
As stated by Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos
“This is a historic change for Victoria and the entire country – we know other states will be looking to us and watching closely.”