Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017

Sabine Phillips, Partner, Melbourne
Tamie Duncan-Bible, Associate, Melbourne
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 passed though the Victorian Legislative Assembly on 29 November 2017. 

The law will go through an 18 month period of implementation before individuals can request access to voluntary assisted dying.  However now is the time to start to consider how this legislation will impact on your organisation as a provider of aged care, home care and disability services.

The voluntary assisted dying legislation aims to provide for and regulate access to voluntary assisted dying, it establishes the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, and makes consequential amendments to relevant legislation, like the Health Records Act 2001, the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 and the Medical Treatment Planning and Decision Act 2016. 

Once in effect, the voluntary assisted dying legislation will apply to:

  • approved providers of aged care, home care services and providers of disability services as defined within the Disability Act 2006;
  • registered health practitioners;
  • Personal Care Attendants and Home Care Workers engaged to provide 'special or personal care' including:
    • assistance with activities of daily life;
    • meals;
    • mobility;
    • medication administration; or
    • substantial emotional support.

Approved providers will need to consider the implications of voluntary assisted dying on their operations including:

  • education and training for all staff employed as registered health practitioners and providers of special or personal care regarding their rights and obligations in relation to residents, clients or participants accessing voluntary assisted dying, including who may possess, store and dispose of voluntary assisted dying substances;
  • procedures to ensure compliance with mandatory reporting obligations;
  • procedures to support staff who choose to or choose not to be involved with residents, clients or participants who request access to voluntary assisted dying;
  • procedures to support residents, clients or participants who request access to voluntary assisted dying;
  • procedures to ensure mechanisms are in place to inform staff of the obligations under the legislation regarding secure storage of any voluntary assisted dying substances in both the residential care and home care setting;
  • education, training and procedures to ensure all staff are aware of the obligations regarding dispensing and disposing of voluntary assisted dying substances.

The person requesting access to voluntary assisted dying must store voluntary assisted dying substances in a locked box in accordance with prescribed specifications  and they must appoint a ‘contact person’.  There are formal requirements to appoint a contact person under the legislation.  The person nominated to be a contact person must also accept the appointment.  The contact person is responsible monitoring the voluntary assisted dying substance and for returning any unused or remaining voluntary assisted dying substances. 

Voluntary assisted dying will only be available to and accessed by individual following the completion of a three step process which includes independent medical assessments. 

The voluntary assisted dying legislation is not intended to, nor will it replace the need for, and the importance of, end of life discussions, Advance Care Planning and information sharing on the role of and importance of palliative care.


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This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.