The preparation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (the Bill) was supported by expert legal advice and a Ministerial Advisory Panel (the Panel) which provided advice on the practical and clinical implications of the Bill.

Parliament passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

On 29 November 2017, the Victorian Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill after a comprehensive, historic and passionate debate in both lower and upper houses.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 was introduced into the Parliament of Victoria by the Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP, on 21 September 2017.

The Bill was consistent with the safeguards recommended by the Panel.

The Bill is available at the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.

Final report

The final report sets out the Panel's recommendations for a safe and compassionate voluntary assisted dying framework for Victoria. It follows from the Panel's interim report, released in May, which outlined the key themes that have arisen from the consultation process with stakeholders. The proposed framework provides access to voluntary assisted dying for a limited number of adult Victorians who are at the end of their lives and suffering.

There are 66 recommendations put forward in the report, which address the details of how voluntary assisted dying would work in practice. The report explains the detailed considerations of the Panel in making its recommendations. The starting point for each of the discussions is the voluntary assisted dying recommendation set out by the Parliamentary Committee. The Panel considers the consultation feedback, and reviews the research, evidence and experience of other jurisdictions where this is relevant.

Interim report

As part of the consultation process, the Panel received 176 written submissions to the discussion paper and conducted 14 consultation forums across metropolitan and regional Victoria, attended by approximately 300 people.

In addition, the Panel held a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholders including medical bodies, consumer and carer groups, disability advocacy groups, legal organisations, mental health providers, commissioners and health administrators.

The interim report sets out the key issues, concerns and potential solutions provided to the Panel by people who participated in the consultation process. The interim report reflects the range of views that the Panel has heard and will be considering in the development of its recommendations.

Discussion paper

The Panel released a discussion paper to seek feedback on the potential details and practical challenges of voluntary assisted dying legislation. The discussion paper builds on the framework recommended by the Parliamentary Committee and focused on ensuring this framework could work in practice. Written submissions to the discussion paper closed on 10 April 2017.

Ministerial Advisory Panel

The Ministerial Advisory Panel was appointed to develop a safe and compassionate framework for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria. Chaired by Professor Brian Owler, the Panel is made up of clinical, legal, consumer, health administrator and palliative care experts.

The Panel comprises:

Name Position and background
Professor Brian K Owler
Chair. Clinical Professor Brian K Owler is an Australian trained neurosurgeon and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
Professor Margaret O'Connor AM Professor of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Arts & Design, Swinburne University providing academic nursing expertise and experience, with a focus on end of life care.
Ms Mary Draper Immediate past CEO of Health Issues Centre, academic and practical health administration in quality and safety. Providing experience in analysing quality and safety of health care from a consumer point of view.
Mr Julian Gardner AM  Lawyer and immediate past Victorian Public Advocate providing experience in advocating for vulnerable people.
Dr Roger Hunt Palliative care physician based in Adelaide providing public and private palliative care services.
Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM Palliative and Supportive Care Flinders University providing expertise and experience in palliative medicine.
Ms Tricia Malowney Health advocate for women with a disability.

Key considerations of the Ministerial Advisory Panel

Taking the Parliamentary Committee's assisted dying framework as the starting point, the Panel's task is to provide advice to Government about the development of a compassionate and safe legislative framework for assisted dying and its implementation.

The role of the Panel is to build on the recommendations and the comprehensive work undertaken by the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into end of life choices. The Panel's role was not to debate whether voluntary assisted dying should be legalised, but to consider important practical questions about issues such as safeguards, eligibility and oversight to deliver a safe and compassionate legislative framework.

The Panel has been careful to balance that autonomy against the important considerations of safety, and its framework providing a compassionate outcome for those people at the end of their life while addressing the concerns of the community. The framework proposed by the Panel focuses on the eligible person who is at their end of their life who expresses their own voluntary request to access voluntary assisted dying; it respects their personal autonomy and choice.

Next steps

The Government will consider the Panel's Final Report in shaping its Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. The bill is due to be introduced to Members of Parliament for a conscience vote later this year.

If the bill passes, the Panel has recommended an 18-month period prior to commencement to allow sufficient time for establishment of the voluntary assisted dying framework.

Support services

Please note that the discussion paper and interim report addresses issues relating to end of life care that some people may find upsetting. If reading the material on this site or thinking about end of life care has raised some issues regarding grief and bereavement or personal crises, the helplines below provide telephone support and counselling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some can also give online assistance (limited hours, depending on the service).

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement - 1800 642 066

Lifeline - 13 11 14