The legislation will now go through an 18-month implementation period before it comes into effect in June 2019.
After this time, Victorians living with a terminal illness will have access to voluntary assisted dying if they meet strict criteria outlined in the legislation.
The debate in Parliament resulted in a number of amendments, which strengthened the Bill while maintaining its integrity and compassion.
Some of the amendments include:
- Voluntary assisted dying will be limited to those whose death is expected in weeks and months, but no longer than six months – a reduction from 12 months. There will be exceptions for people suffering from a neurodegenerative condition and whose death is expected within weeks and months but for a period no greater than twelve months to access it.
- A person must have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months before being able to 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.
This legislation is the result of two and a half years of extensive consultation and engagement with the community, health, palliative care and legal sectors, including the Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into End-of-Life Choices, and the Expert Ministerial Advisory Panel.
Voluntary assisted dying is part of broader reform to end of life care, which has included improving quality of palliative care, access to pain management, and making sure individuals have a choice about how, and where, they end their lives. This includes being able to refuse certain medical treatments at the end of their lives.
The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring all Victorians have access to the best possible end of life and palliative care, which relieves pain and suffering and provides empowering support to people and their family, friends and carers.
Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill and Ministerial Advisory Panel
End of life and palliative care