Assisted dying laws one step closer in Victoria

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews committed in December to introduce legislation to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews committed in December to introduce legislation to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people.

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TERMINALLY ill Victorians could soon have the legal right to end their own suffering.

Legislation is expected to be put to a conscience vote in the Victorian parliament before the end of the year, following the release tomorrow of the Independent Ministerial Advisory Panel’s final report on the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill.

It is understood the panel has recommended a predominately self-administered scheme, where the lethal medication must be self-administered by the patient.

Exemptions may be made in cases where the severity or extent of a person’s illness prevents them from self-administering medication, such as those patients with throat cancer, in which case a practitioner may administer the dose.

The panel has recommended the scheme only be available to people diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition that is expected to cause death within weeks or months, but not longer than 12 months.

The panel’s final report includes 66 recommendations covering eligibility for the scheme, how requests  to access voluntary assisted dying are made and assessed, oversight, and the safeguards and protections in place.  

The recommendations are consistent with the assisted dying framework outlined in the Parliamentary Committee’s Inquiry into End of Life Choices that was tabled last year.

The ministerial panel, chaired by neurosurgeon and former AMA President Dr Brian Owler, was established by the government to assist drafting a safe and compassionate legislative framework for assisted dying in Victoria.

During the past six months, the panel has undertaken extensive consultation, with more than 300 stakeholders across Victoria participating in the process.

The model being recommended is said to be the safest in the world, with the most rigorous protections and safeguards.

The government will consider the panel’s recommendations and respond in coming weeks.

Brian Owler chairs the panel looking at how dying with dignity laws would work. Photo: Janie Barrett

Brian Owler chairs the panel looking at how dying with dignity laws would work. Photo: Janie Barrett

Similar bills have been rejected in Tasmania and the Northern Territory , however New South Wales is also currently debating assisted dying laws.

The Victorian state government committed in December to introduce legislation to legalise voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill people.

Announcing the commitment in December, Premier Daniel Andrews acknowledged community sentiment on the issue was changing.

“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,” he said.

This story Assisted dying laws one step closer first appeared on The Courier.