Terminally Ill Accessing Voluntary Assisted Dying

19 February 2020

Fifty-two Victorians suffering at the end of their lives with a terminal illness have accessed voluntary assisted dying in the first six months of Victoria’s historic law.

Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos welcomed the second report of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, led by former Supreme Court Justice Her Honour Betty King QC, which was tabled in Parliament today.

It details activity under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 from 19 June to 31 December 2019. During that time:

  • 136 people commenced the assessment process through the portal
  • 81 people were issued with permits
  • 52 people died from taking prescribed medications
  • All cases examined by the Board were compliant with the law.

More than 370 doctors have either completed or are undertaking the mandatory training required to participate – a third of them in regional Victoria – and those numbers continue to rise.

Only Victorian adults who have an incurable, advanced and progressive medical condition and who have decision-making capacity can access voluntary assisted dying.

The care navigator service provides information and support about voluntary assisted dying for the community, doctors and health services, and the statewide pharmacy service dispenses and delivers the medication to the person or their coordinating doctor.

Support packages are also available for people accessing voluntary assisted dying to help ensure fairness and equal access.

The Board is required to report to Parliament every six months for the first two years.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

“These nation-leading laws are giving Victorians with an incurable illness a compassionate choice over the timing and manner of their death, and relief from their suffering.”

“Among the most moving conversations I’ve had as Health Minister has been with family members who are grateful to have seen a loved one fulfil their wishes, and to have had the opportunity to say goodbye.”

Quotes attributable to Board Chairperson Betty King

“The Board can confirm that all reviewed cases within the first six months of the Act were compliant with the law.”

“The Board follows up with the contact person for each case and gains important feedback about how voluntary assisted dying is working. We have shared some of these learnings in our report.”

Reviewed 30 July 2020

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