The Andrews Labor Government will introduce legislation into the Parliament next year to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people in Victoria.
The Bill, to be prepared by Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and Attorney-General Martin Pakula, 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.
To support this work, 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.
This process will ensure the Government’s legislation has been subject to significant consultation and engagement with the clinical and wider community, and scrutiny to provide assurances to Victorians that voluntary assisted dying will have the right and proper protections.
Further consideration will be given to matters including:
- Defining the scope of physician assisted dying
- The clinical tools and support clinicians need before they make assessments of patients who request assisted dying
- How medications would be monitored and prescribed, including the impact Commonwealth regulations may have on accessing and authorising which drug is utilised
- How doctors would qualify for practising assisted dying in Victoria, including how they would be assessed or registered
- The public safety challenges of prescribing medications to be taken at a later date and in a non-clinical location such as someone’s home
- How the administration of the medications to a person physically unable to administer it themselves should be regulated
- Management of consent processes and how the interaction with other health services will be managed, including information sharing protocols to ensure a coordinated system response to a person who has requested assisted dying
- How the notification of deaths as a result of assisted dying will be monitored and notified
A discussion paper will be released for public comment in early 2017, with targeted stakeholder consultation to follow.
The Government expects to introduce the legislation in the second half of 2017.
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.
The Government today tabled its response to the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into end of life choices report.
This follows the release of the Government’s End of Life and Palliative Care Framework that will support more people with a terminal illness to die at home, and enshrining advance care directives in law for the first time in Victoria.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“Community sentiment on this issue is changing, and I know many in Victoria think it’s time we have this debate – a debate that respects people’s views and respects people’s lives.”
“We are doing the work to make sure that everyone in the Victorian Parliament has the information, and assurances they need to make an informed decision about this important issue.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“We know we need to do more to give people with terminal illnesses more choices at the end of their life.”
“Our plan will have the proper checks and balances to make sure we get this right.”
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“We will be working closely with legal and medical experts to ensure we have the right safeguards in place to protect vulnerable Victorians.”