Access Voluntary Assisted Dying
This page provides you with all the relevant information you need to know about the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 and information about how to access Voluntary Assisted Dying in Victoria.
Please also see the official comprehensive information on VAD provided by the Department of Health at the Better Health Channel.
You can also find additional information on our FAQs page.
In this video Dr Meredith Doig, Dr Nick Carr and Dr Cam McLaren from Dying With Dignity Victoria take you through the process of Voluntary Assisted Dying under the Victorian VAD law. They cover who is eligible for VAD and who isn’t, how you apply and how the medication actually works.
Current Law in Victoria
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 was passed through the Victorian Parliament in November of 2017. The law went into operation on June 19th, 2019.
This means that a patient who meets the eligibility criteria and is assessed as eligible by two Medical Practitioners is able to access life-ending medication in the state of Victoria.
To be eligible, a person must meet all these criteria.
- The person must be aged 18 years or more
- The person must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and ordinarily resident in Victoria
- The person must have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying
- The person must be diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that is incurable, is advanced, progressive and will cause death
- The person’s illness is expected to cause death within weeks or months, not exceeding 6 months. In the case of a neuro-degenerative disease (for instance, Motor Neurone Disease), the time frame for eligibility is extended to 12 months.
- The person’s illness is causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.
A person is not eligible for access to voluntary assisted dying only because the person is diagnosed with a mental illness or a disability.
Requirements for the assessing Health Practitioner
Minimum requirements for co-ordinating medical practitioners and consulting medical practitioners:
- Each co-ordinating medical practitioner and consulting medical practitioner must hold a fellowship with a specialist medical college; or be a vocationally registered general practitioner.
- Either the co-ordinating medical practitioner or each consulting medical practitioner must have practised as a registered medical practitioner for at least 5 years after completing a fellowship with a specialist medical college or vocational registration (as the case requires).
- Either the co-ordinating medical practitioner or each consulting medical practitioner must have relevant expertise and experience in the disease, illness or medical condition expected to cause the death of the person being assessed.
Process for requesting an Assisted Death
A person must make three requests for an assisted death.
- A person may make first request to registered medical practitioner. The practitioner must advise the person of all treatment options and their likely outcomes, including Palliative Care.
- The registered medical practitioner must accept or refuse first request. Refusal must be clearly explained to the patient. The request must be accepted or refused within 7 days.
- The second request must be a written request, and be signed by the person making the declaration in the presence of 2 witnesses and the co-ordinating medical practitioner.
- The witnesses must be:
- aged 18 years or more; and
- not an ineligible witness.
- A person is an ineligible witness for the purposes of a written declaration if the person—
- is a beneficiary under a will of the person making the declaration; or
- may otherwise benefit financially or in any other material way from the death of the person making the declaration; or
- is an owner of, or is responsible for the day to-day operation of, any health facility at which the person making the declaration is being treated; or the person making the declaration resides; or is directly involved in providing health services or professional care services to the person making the declaration.
- The written declaration must specify that the person makes the declaration voluntarily and without coercion; and understands the nature and the effect of the declaration the person is making.
The third and final request is made to the co-ordinating medical practitioner. The Patient then appoints a person who is aged 18 years or more as the contact person in respect of the person. The contact person must accept this position in order for it to be valid.
The full series of the request is then reviewed by the co-ordinating medical practitioner, before certifying that the request requirements have been met and that the requirements for decision making capacity have been retained.
- There is no obligation to continue with request at any stage, and no obligation to continue at any stage once the request is grant
For answers to the following questions and more, see our FAQs page:
- What if I cannot find a doctor to assist me?
- When should I start seeking assisted dying?
- Is there anything I can do to assist in the successful implementation of VAD?