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BCNA News 29 Nov 2017


On 29 November 2017 the State Government of Victoria passed legislation allowing for voluntary assisted dying to be accessed under specific circumstances in the state of Victoria. Victoria is the only state where voluntary assisted dying is legal in Australia. Assisted dying is expected to be available in Victoria to eligible people in 2019. 

Under the new laws, voluntary assisted dying will only be available to Victorian residents who are over the age of 18 and are capable of making decisions. They must be suffering from an incurable illness which causes intolerable suffering and be expected to live for less than six months unless they have an exempt condition (such as motor neurone disease) where the life expectancy is increased to 12 months. The legislation contains 68 safeguards including new criminal offenses to protect vulnerable people from abuse and coercion and a special board to review all cases. Palliative care and care for people who are at the end of their lives will also receive a funding boost of $62 million dollars over five years. You can read the legislation on the Parliament of Victoria’s website. There is also a summary of how the assisted dying legislation will work on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website.

Voluntary assisted dying is a sensitive issue and many people have strongly held views on this subject. In BCNA’s 2017 member survey over 9,300 respondents had an opinion on voluntary assisted dying. Eighty three per cent of these people said they were supportive of people having access to medically assisted dying. For those who are living with metastatic breast cancer, the percentage was even higher, with 86 per cent in favour of legal changes to support assisted dying legislation.

If you have any questions or queries about voluntary assisted dying we encourage you to discuss these with your GP, oncologist, or healthcare professional.