Government update on Assisted Dying legislation

The Andrews Labor Government will introduce legislation later this year to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people in Victoria.

The Bill will be consistent with the assisted dying framework outlined in Recommendation 49 in the Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into end of life choices report.

The report recommends adults with decision making capacity, suffering from a serious and incurable condition who are at the end of their life be provided assistance to die in certain circumstances.

While the Government acknowledges the significant work undertaken by the Legal and Social Issues Committee, we believe more needs to be done on the practical detail in Recommendation 49 to support the drafting of legislation, and to ensure a workable scheme with strong safeguards.

In summary the following steps will be taken in 2017:

  1. A Ministerial Advisory Panel made up of clinical, legal, consumer, health administrator and palliative care experts will be established to assist drafting a safe and compassionate legislative framework for assisted dying in Victoria.
  1. A discussion paper will be released for public comment in early 2017, with targeted stakeholder consultation to follow. There will be opportunities for the community, health professions and organisations such as COTA to feedback on the discussion paper.
  1. The Government expects to introduce the legislation in the second half of 2017.

COTA will continue to provide accurate and up to date information for older people and all our members. We understand the importance of protection, safety and autonomy in decision making that will underpin this work.

As is the case on all issues of life and death, all Labor Members of Parliament will be granted a conscience vote on the legislation when it is introduced. Liberal Party members will also be afforded a conscience vote.

The Victorian Government responded to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices in December 2016.

You can download the summary and full report here

Here COTA Victoria End of Life Submission

What Older People Want – COTA’s work on end of life issues

Since May 2014 almost 300 older people have attended Dying to Talk events run by COTA Victoria in partnership with other organisations (Palliative Care Victoria, Macedon Ranges Shire and City of Casey). COTA has responded to its members and more broadly community discussion on bringing death and dying out of the private, medicalised and hidden sphere of life back into the public domain. The attendance and participation of older people at these events over the past 18 months has emphasised the importance of  public dialogue; how to plan for what we want and what issues need to be considered in planning for end of life care, dying and death.

COTA Victoria’s focus in these events has been on supporting older people to share personal stories and asking questions from ‘experts’ in palliative care, medicine, Advance Care Planning and the funeral industry in a supportive and non-judgemental environment. We have trained older people to play an important role in facilitating conversations at these events.

A significant number of Dying to Talk recipients responded to our evaluation survey expressing appreciation at being able to share their story or experience and discuss their fears and questions with peers in a safe environment. In conjunction with Palliative Care Victoria we collated the qualitative responses of Dying To Talk participants and a number of recurring themes emerged:

  • Talking about end of life to family and doctors
  • Understanding the process of dying
  • How to make sure my wishes and choices are respected
  • How to plan for the unknown when drawing up my ACP
  • How to keep out of hospital and die at home with appropriate supports
  • What support or services are there if you are on your own
  • Euthanasia and the right to decide when to ‘go’
  • What is the role of the Dr in the death stage

For more information and resources:

Victorian End of Life Care Framework

Past Events 2015

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TUESDAY 10th NOV 8.30pm ,SBS Insight with Jenny Brockie. A special discussion on Advance Care Plans and end of life decision making. COTA Vic member Monica Hayes is on the program telling her own story. Not to be missed

Advance Care Planning Forum As part of the Advance Care Planning & End of Life Care National Conference, there will be a free forum on implementing Advance Care Planning on Wednesday November 24 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Funded Advanced Care Planning Projects in health organisations will be presenting their work. To register for the free forum you can go to

 Victoria’s End of Life Care framework. Have your say – 18th December deadline.

A new Discussion Paper – Greater Say for Victorians: Improving End of Life Care – has been released, and consultation is currently underway with health professionals, carers, families and members of the community to develop a new state-wide end of life care framework. The development of a new end of life care framework will help us shape a future health system that is person centred and responsive to the wishes of individuals and families.

Register to attend a consultation forum and download the discussion paper Greater Say for Victorians: Improving End of Life Care at,

The Discussion Paper looks at how to strengthen the framework to:

  • Enable genuine choice
  • Support individuals, families and carers
  • Respond to diversity
  • Help people to die well
  • Support the workforce.

The Discussion Paper is available at, or discussion paper (PDF – 1,577.54KB) or a hard copy can be requested by calling 03 9096 1337. Submissions can be received until Friday 18 December 2015 via the website,, or by mailing Continuing Care – Health Service Programs, GPO BOX 4057, Melbourne VIC 3001.




5 Responses to End of Life Issues

  1. Margaret T says:

    I hope the discussions include euthenasia to be discussed seriously.
    My husband died with Alzheimers’disease and it seemed so cruel for him to suffering the way he was. The same thing can be applied to people in the later stages of terminal cancer.
    I think we should be able to specify that we wish to die at a certain stage with a terminal disease. Surely the rules could be made tight enough to cover all contingencies IF a person wishes that to happen.
    When I saw how peacefully our Whippets were allowed to die when it was obviously the correct thing to do, it certainly made me think.

  2. Heather M says:

    NO palliative care in a hospital bed for me for up to 3 weeks.
    I want VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA to die in my home bed and go at a day time I choose = die with dignity.

    No one else should have the right to tell me I cannot do this. Safeguards are running in overseas countries for this and Australia needs to join the world.

  3. COTA Vic says:

    How can we best ensure quality of life until end of life. The issues Margaret and Heather raise are the stories behind the services and supports. How do we ensure there is adequate and appropriate palliative care for home, in hospice care and institutions? This means not just attending to pain management but holistically addressing the person’s individual circumstances, needs and choices. The Inquiry into End of Life Decision Making wants to hear these stories as they highlight the lived experience of people facing end of life. Keep your comments coming. COTA is exploring what does it mean to have ‘informed choice’ within current legislative frameworks and what safeguards are essential when considering other models that include Euthanasia and assisted suicide. We must all participate in this important debate. Thank you for both sharing what is difficult and painful.

  4. susan says:

    as an only daughter , i knew my dad was dying. In hospital treatment of me and my dad was disgusting and i find it hard to forget. i dont think hospital staff know how to care for older (89) , mentally sound people who are dying. There was no assistance for us at all until dads heart gp was contacted and then two days before he died he was put in a ‘quiet’ room where we were even easier to ignore. mydad took a week to pass away , most of it in severe pain.

  5. bmorton says:

    Your experience demonstrates a lack of respect, dignity and care. It highlights a range of issues in particular the care provided to older people that are dying – and their family. Was there palliative care being provided? The lack of emotional, physical and spiritual care you experienced was traumatising. Please let the Hospital Patient Advocate know. Make a complaint when you feel able to. Let the Inquiry know about your experience. Thank you for sharing what is clearly a deeply painful experience.

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