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Voluntary Assisted Dying Act comes into law

11 Dec 2017

Voluntary Assisted Dying Act comes into law

On 5 December 2017, the divisive Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017, which gives eligible persons access to voluntary assisted dying in Victoria, received royal assent and came into law. This was after the Bill passed through Victoria’s Upper House on 22 November 2017 and through the Lower House on 29 November 2017.   

In order to access voluntary assisted dying, a person must be over the age of 18 and an Australian citizen or permanent resident and must ordinarily reside in Victoria. A person must also have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying, and must be diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that:

  • is incurable; and
  • is advanced, progressive and will cause death; and
  • is expected to cause death within weeks or months, not exceeding 6 months; and
  • is causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.

Aged care providers and their staff will be able to exercise their rights as either conscientious objectors or assenters. This means they will have a right to refuse to certain matters including to:

  • provide information about voluntary assisted dying;
  • participate in the request and assessment process;
  • administer a voluntary assisted dying substance;
  • be present at the time of administration of a voluntary assisted dying substance.

The Act also has other practical implications for all Victorian aged care providers including the need to ensure they have appropriate policy and procedure documents in place which incorporate the provisions contained in the Act.

While the legislation has now received royal assent, there will be a further 18 months before anyone is given access to voluntary assisted dying. During the 18 month implementation phase, we will provide a range of information and guidance to approved providers regarding the steps that providers will need to take to implement the changes.

We will continue to monitor the Act and provide updates on any relevant developments.

Should you require any further information, please contact us. 

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