The State Government has received an expert report which outlines recommendations for the development of voluntary assisted dying laws, due to be introduced into State Parliament later this year.
The report by the Ministerial Expert Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying was tabled in Parliament today. The panel, chaired by Malcolm McCusker AC QC, includes clinicians along with experts in law and palliative care.
The panel made 31 recommendations for the proposed legislation after consulting widely to seek the views of Western Australia’s diverse community, experts in the field and special interest groups.
It also closely considered the international experience in jurisdictions where similar laws exist, as well as the Victorian legislation which came into effect on June 19, 2019.
The report outlines an approach to giving eligible people at the end of their life access to voluntary assisted dying, while ensuring there is a stringent approval process in place for these decisions.
The panel’s recommendations also address the need for strong safeguards in the assessment of a person’s capacity as well as strict eligibility conditions.
Consultations were held in 11 metropolitan and regional centres across the State from March to May, and the community could also participate online. This was the biggest program of consultation ever undertaken by WA Health; 867 people attended consultation sessions and a further 541 provided written submissions.
The purpose of the expert panel’s final report is to assist the development of fully informed and workable legislation, not to review or debate the arguments for or against voluntary assisted dying.
In November 2018, the McGowan Government announced that it would introduce legislation into State Parliament to enable voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia, following recommendations made by a Joint Select Committee aimed at strengthening and adapting the way the health system delivers end-of life choices and palliative care.
The expert panel’s final report and more information can be found at https://www.health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“I’d like to thank the expert panel for their report, it is the result of hard work and dedication. They have listened to wide-ranging community views on this important and significant issue and have reviewed a broad range of research, both from Australia and overseas.
“The McGowan Government will now consider the expert panel’s report and recommendations as we begin the next phase in the introduction of a bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia. The report is a vital component in the quest to draft compassionate and safe legislation.
“There is consistent and widespread community support for voluntary assisted dying reform, and the McGowan Government is committed to ensuring the highest quality end-of-life choices and palliative care for all Western Australians.”