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Victoria passes Voluntary Assisted Dying laws

Victoria is now Australia’s first state to pass Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation through both houses of parliament. COTA Victoria congratulates the Minister for Health Jill Hennessy, the Victorian Government and Members of Parliament for passing this significant Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, making Victoria Australia’s first state to introduce significant end of life reform. These new laws won’t come into effect until June 2019 after an 18 month implementation period.

As the Victorian Minister Jill Hennessy stated: “After two and a half years of hard work and consideration by so many in our parliament, the passing of the Bill will finally give Victorians more control, compassion and support at the end of their lives.”

Following the Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices, the government appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee to undertake 18 months of extensive consultation with Members of Parliament and people working in palliative care, health, the community and legal sectors. In deliberating what legal framework would provide a balance of compassion and strong safeguards against abuse, the Ministerial committee considered conscientious objection, safety and access to medication, protections against elder abuse and providing person centred care within the new legislation.

After two overnight sittings and more than 100 hours of debate in the upper and lower houses of the Victorian Parliament the following amendments were made:

  • Limiting access to those whose death is expected in weeks and months, but no longer than six months (not 12 months). Those suffering from a neurodegenerative condition, whose death is expected within weeks and months can be provided access if their death is expected within 12 months.
  • A person must be living in Victoria for at least 12 months before they can make a request
  • A person with a mental illness must be referred to a psychiatrist for an assessment
  • The assessing doctor must encourage the person to inform their regular doctor of their intention to access voluntary assisted dying, if the assessing doctor is not the person’s regular doctor
  • The contact person is required to return any unused voluntary assisted dying substance within 15 days (not 30)
  • The review Board has a role to follow up with the contact person to advise on the safe return of any unused medication
  • The coroner will be informed of voluntary assisted dying deaths
  • Death certificates for people who have chosen voluntary assisted dying will record the manner of death as voluntary assisted dying.
  • How the legislation is implemented and the response of health services and professionals will be critical in ensuring timely access, safety, choice and compassion are integrated as part of our end of life care in Victoria.

COTA Victoria will be providing information sessions on Voluntary Assisted Dying in 2018.

Follow the links to read the full parliamentary inquiry and the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Voluntary Assisted Dying: Final Report

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