Australia Update

By mid 2021, one third of people in Australia will have the choice of legal voluntary assisted dying, through the Victorian and Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Acts.

 

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Hon Kyam Maher, Shadow Attorney General, introduced a motion to establish a Joint Select Committee on Voluntary Assisted Dying in March 2019. The Parliament established a Joint Committee on End of Life Choices in April 2019. The Committee invited submissions (closing date August 2, 2019) and completed public hearings in May 2020. Committee members visited Victoria in late 2019 to meet the VAD Review Board and discuss the implementation of Victoria's VAD Act (2017). A report is expected shortly. (Further details here) (Aug 2020)

 

queensland-location-on-the-australia-mapThe Queensland Premier announced a Parliamentary Inquiry in September 2018. The Report was delivered in March 2020 and recommended in favour of introducing a law to allow voluntary assisted dying. The Queensland Government has announced that it will not introduce legislation before the October 2020 State Election. A recent poll commissioned by the Clem Jones Trust showed majority public support for law reform. 

 

 

The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 was drafted by a cross-party Parliamentary Working Group on Assisted Dying and introduced in the NSW Parliament by Nationals MLC Trevor Khan May 2017. It was debated in the upper house in November but was defeated 20 votes to 19. NSW had expected another VAD Bill to be introduced in 2019, however, a divisive Abortion Law Reform debate in August 2019 saw proponents reluctant to proceed. (July 2020)

 

 

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After eight months of consultation around the state, Tasmanian Independent MLC Mike Gaffney introduced the End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 in the Legislative Council on August 27, 2020. This followed eight months of consultation on the Bill, with 35 forums across Tasmania during February alone, to explain the proposed legislation to communities and receive feedback from stakeholders. The last Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in the Tasmanian Parliament was defeated in May 2016 - the third Bill defeated by the Tasmanian Parliament in the last 10 years. (Sept 2020)

The Victorian Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in November 2017.

Over the following 18 months, Regulations, policies, operating guidelines and training were developed and the Act came into effect on June 19, 2019. Reports, details of the operation of the VAD Review Board, further information, available here. (Aug 2020)

 

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The Speakers of the ACT and NT Parliaments petitioned the Senate President in August to restore Territory rights. 

This followed the earlier defeat of the Leyonhjelm Bill (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/15/euthanasia-bill-in-doubt-as-two-senators-reverse-position) to repeal the Act which prevents Territories legislating for voluntary assisted dying (known as the Andrews Bill). 

 

WA became the second state in Australia to deliver a legal choice of Voluntary Assisted Dying. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the House of Assembly on Dec 10, 2019, after agreeing to the 55 amendments made in the Legislative Council. The WA Parliament conducted a year long Parliamentary Inquiry, followed by an Expert Panel which advised on the detail of the legislation. The Panel included Dr Roger Hunt, SA Palliative Care Physician, who was also a member of the Victorian Government's Expert Panel. The WA Parliament released the report of the Inquiry into End of Life Choices in August 2018. The Inquiry Report recommended the introduction of voluntary assisted dying in WA. (report available here.)   (Dec 2019)

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Representatives from the NT Government and Opposition supported a petition to the Senate President to restore Territory rights. The NT Speaker, and government and opposition MPs, travelled to Canberra in August to present the remonstrance motion.    (Sept 2018)