Key messages

  • The Victorian Government formally responded to the Legislative Council's Legal and Social Issues Committee report on Thursday, 8 December 2016.
  • The Government supports 44 of the inquiry's 49 recommendations.
  • The Government has established a Ministerial Advisory Panel to advise on the development of voluntary assisted dying legislation.
  • As part of its consultation process, the Ministerial Advisory Panel has released a Voluntary Assisted Dying Discussion Paper and feedback has been received. The interim report is available on the Voluntary Assisted Dying page.
  • The Government believes all Victorians are entitled to quality end of life and palliative care, which relieves pain and suffering, and provides empowering support to family, friends and carers.

The Victorian Government formally responded to the Legislative Council's Legal and Social Issues Committee report on Thursday 8 December 2016.

A total of 49 recommendations were put forward to the Government for response in a report tabled on 9 June 2016. These include 29 recommendations relating to palliative care and 18 recommendations relating to advance care planning and the need for statutory recognition of advance care directives.

The Government:

  • Supports 44 of the inquiry's 49 recommendations
  • Has identified three recommendations as requiring further work; and
  • Does not support two of the recommendations.

The Government believes all Victorians are entitled to quality end of life and palliative care, which relieves pain and suffering, and provides empowering support to family, friends and carers.

The implementation of the Victorian End of Life and Palliative Care Framework, and the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (that has recently passed the Parliament) address a significant number of the recommendations made by the Committee.

The Committee's final recommendation (49) recommended the implementation of an assisted dying framework.

The Government has committed to undertaking further work on developing an assisted dying legislative framework, which will be supported by expert legal advice and a Ministerial Advisory Panel that will provide advice on the practical and clinical implications of new legislation.

Key stakeholders will be consulted about the development and implementation of an assisted dying framework.

To see the official response, visit the Parliament of Victoria website.

Key points about Government's response to the Final Report recommendations

Government supports 44 of the 49 recommendations.

Three recommendations (numbers 28, 29 and 49) have been identified as requiring further work and two of the recommendations (numbers 27 and 43) are not supported.

Overall the Committee's recommendations are consistent with feedback from the Government's own end of life care community consultations. The Government's End of Life and Palliative Care Framework and the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act and their implementation address a significant number of the recommendations made by the Committee.

Recommendations 28 and 29: Further work for legislative provisions for the 'doctrine of double effect' and the withholding and withdrawing of futile treatment

Further work needs to be undertaken to review the best way to progress these recommendations, which propose detailed legislative provisions in relation to the 'doctrine of double effect' and the withholding and withdrawing of futile treatment.

These recommendations need further consideration because the desired outcome of creating certainty for doctors requires in depth review of legislative options and assessment of how detailed legislation can provide clarity for those applying the law in practice.

Recommendation 49: Further work for developing an assisted dying framework for Victoria

Government has agreed to prepare a Bill for an Act to legalise voluntary assisted dying, consistent with the recommendation of the Committee's proposed assisted dying framework.

More information on the Government's development of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill


Recommendations not supported

Recommendation 27 requires that all cases of continuous palliative sedation are reported to, and published by, the Department of Health and Human Services. It is not supported because testimonies from clinicians quoted in the report did not reveal any evidence of concern about the use of sedation to manage symptoms. The term 'continuous palliative sedation' has various definitions and it is not clear how it would be reported.

It is proposed that the action for recommendation 26, which recommends the development of practice guidelines will provide a more appropriate response through the use of clinical guidelines for symptom management.

Recommendation 43 requires that, through the establishment of End of Life Care Victoria as part of the assisted dying framework, a registry hotline for advance care plans is established. This recommendation is not supported because it would conflate advance care planning with assisted dying. The National Framework for Advance Care Directives (2011) does not recommend the establishment of advance care directive registers. The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 does not require registration of advance care directives or a central registry.

Support services

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