Government to introduce Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying and improve end-of-life choices for Western Australians

  • Expert panel appointed to guide development of legislation
  • It is expected the Bill will be ready to be introduced into Parliament next year
  • McGowan Government commits to the provision of high-quality palliative care and advanced care planning

The McGowan Government will introduce a Bill into State Parliament to legalise voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.

This decision has been made following the recommendations from the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices, outlined in its August report ‘My Life, My Choice’.

Labor Members of Parliament will be offered a conscience vote on the government introduced bill.

The Joint Select Committee found that a protracted death from a terminal, chronic or neurological condition can have a devastating effect on patients and their families. It also reasoned that for people with grievous and irremediable suffering, where death is a foreseeable outcome of the condition, voluntary assisted dying should be an option.

The Bill will be drafted in consultation with a panel of experts to provide advice to government on a safe and compassionate framework for voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.

The expert panel will be chaired by Malcolm McCusker QC, former Governor of Western Australia, and will report to the Minister for Health. The panel of 11 members is comprised of leading health professionals, health consumers and legal experts.

While research shows the majority of Western Australians support voluntary assisted dying, the McGowan Government remains wholly committed to ensuring that Western Australians have access to high-quality palliative care, and it supports people of all ages with a life-limiting or terminal illness live their lives as fully and as comfortably as possible.

With an ever-growing and ageing population, a renewed focus on palliative care and advanced care planning, including legally binding directives, is vital.

The Department of Health has recently released the ‘WA End-of-Life and Palliative Care Strategy 2018-2028’ which outlines the Government’s strategic policy direction.

It provides a 10-year vision for improving the lives of all Western Australians through quality end-of-life and palliative care.

As noted by Health Minister Roger Cook:

“The McGowan Government is committed to ensuring that Western Australians have access to high-quality end-of-life and palliative care.

“The introduction of a voluntary assisted dying Bill will provide those individuals who are experiencing grievous and irremediable suffering associated with advanced and progressive terminal conditions with an additional choice.

“Introducing this legislation is a complex and challenging task for the McGowan Government. The expert panel, led by Malcolm McCusker QC, is essential for framing the legislation to best suit and safely serve the needs of the Western Australian community. I thank all the panel members for agreeing to assist with developing this important body of work.”

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