Tara Cheyne, MLA, Member for Ginninderra, introduced a Bill to Parliament today, October 31, 2023. The parliamentary process may be watched online on https://broadcast.parliament.act.gov.au/
The ACT VAD Bill can be viewed here – http://www.legislation.act.gov.au
A brief summary of the main provisions is as follows.
If the person
- Has been diagnosed with at least one relevant condition that is advanced, progressive, and is expected to cause death
- Is suffering intolerably in relation to relevant conditions and the suffering is persistent (whether physical, mental or both)
- Suffering may be caused by the anticipation or expectation of future suffering based on medical advice
- Has lived in the ACT for at least the previous 12 months. An exemption is available for individuals with a substantial connection to the ACT, as assessed by the ACT Health Directorate on application
No expectation of a time to death is required.
The overall process for requesting VAD and assessment of eligibility generally reflects the Australian model, with coordinating and consulting practitioners, and an oversight board. Two notable differences are –
- There is no requirement for a person’s VAD process to take a certain minimum number of days between the first and final request, noting time is inherently built into the request and assessment process.
- If a practitioner is unable or unwilling to continue as coordinating practitioner, they may transfer their role to another qualified practitioner.
Accessing the substance:
There is no default mode of administration. Self or Practitioner administration can apply. An eligible witness is required for practitioner administration, but not self-administration.
Role of health professionals:
- A Medical Practitioner must hold specialist registration and have practiced for at least one- year (General Practitioners hold this).
- There is no requirement for the medical practitioner to hold specialist expertise or experience in the disease, illness or condition the person seeking VAD is dying from.
Registered nurses can be involved in the VAD process if they have suitable experience of at least one year post-nurse practitioner endorsement in areas such as palliative care, terminal cancer care, neurodegenerative disease management and aged care. With this experience, nurses may become
- The Administering practitioner
- Either coordinating or consulting practitioner if they have relevant experience, of at least one-year post-nurse practitioner endorsement, and the other practitioner is a medical practitioner who holds specialist registration and has practiced for at least one year.
Role of health services & care facilities:
- VAD services will be delivered in the primary and private health sectors, and within the network of public hospitals and health services.
- All care facilities may decide their level of involvement with VAD, as long as they do not hinder access to VAD and comply with the minimum standards.
- A VAD Pharmacy Service and a VAD Care Navigator Service will be established. Care facilities must meet a reasonable standard of cooperation with those seeking VAD.
Oversight, reporting, compliance:
An independent statutory VAD board will be established, appointed and subject to direction and referral by the Minister for Health. A review of the Act will be undertaken three years after the commencement of the Act, and in five-year intervals after that, including review of age, advanced care plans, and residency requirements.
Voluntary assisted dying bill introduced in ACT
[Source: The Canberra Daily]