Voluntary assisted dying

  • Western Australia has passed legislation which enables voluntary assisted dying to become a choice available to people in mid-2021 (expected 1 July 2021). This is to allow for an 18-month implementation period.
  • Voluntary assisted dying involves a process to access medication and to enable a person to legally choose the manner and timing of their death.
  • Put simply, voluntary assisted dying means that some adults could ask for medical help to end their life if they have a disease or illness that is so severe it is going to cause their death and they are suffering badly.
  • The term 'voluntary assisted dying' emphasises the voluntary nature of the choice of the person and their enduring capacity to make this decision.

Recently added

Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation

In August 2019 the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 was introduced into the Western Australian Parliament.

On 10 December 2019 the Bill completed passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent on 19 December 2019.

Part 1 of the Act (other than divisions 2 to 4) commenced on Royal Assent and the rest of the Act will commence upon proclamation which is scheduled for mid-2021.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (external site)

Voluntary Assisted Dying in Western Australia

Note: the details below and the high-level process diagram (PDF 1MB) are summaries only, for full details you must refer to Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (external site). Commencement is expected in mid-2021.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 Access Standard (PDF 890KB)

To be eligible for voluntary assisted dying, the person must meet all of the eligibility criteria. This includes that they:

  • are aged 18 years or over
  • are an Australian citizen or permanent resident who has been ordinarily resident in Western Australia for at least 12 months
  • have been diagnosed with at least 1 disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and will cause death; and, will, on the balance of probabilities cause death within a period of 6 months (or 12 months for neurodegenerative); and, is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable
  • must have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying
  • must be acting voluntarily and without coercion
  • must have an enduring request for access to voluntary assisted dying

To access voluntary assisted dying a person must be independently assessed as eligible by two medical practitioners. These medical practitioners must meet certain requirements and have undergone mandatory training. They may also refer the person for additional assessments if required.

During the process the person must make three separate requests for voluntary assisted dying: a first request, a written declaration and a final request. The written declaration must be witnessed by two people (who meet specific requirements).

Voluntary assisted dying may be through self-administration or practitioner administration of the voluntary assisted dying substance – this is a decision made in consultation with the co-ordinating medical practitioner. If self-administration, the person must appoint a Contact Person who has specific responsibilities, including return of any unused substance. If practitioner administration this may be done by a medical practitioner or by a nurse practitioner (who meet specific requirements).

The death certificate must not include any reference to voluntary assisted dying.

Throughout the process the person must be informed of many different aspects relating to voluntary assisted dying, as well as their treatment and palliative care options.

Fundamental to the process is that it remains voluntary and free from coercion. The person can withdraw or revoke their involvement at any stage.

Health practitioners are also able to refuse to participate in voluntary assisted dying for any reason (including conscientious objection).

Health care workers must not initiate discussion about, or suggest, voluntary assisted dying to a person to whom they are providing health or professional care services. The exception to this is for medical practitioners or nurse practitioners if, at the same time, they also inform the person about treatment and palliative care options available to them and the likely outcomes of that care and treatment.

Information for professionals

Health professionals

Other professionals

Access to WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Approved Training

Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners seeking to participate in the voluntary assisted dying process are required to successfully complete the Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Approved Training.

Access to the WA VAD Approved Training will only be granted to practitioners who meet the relevant eligibility criteria (PDF 895KB) under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (including the requirements approved by the CEO (PDF 992KB)).

Practitioners can now pre-register online to commence the access process. The training is expected to become available in early June 2021.

Further details for health practitioner access can be found on the WA VAD Approved Training (PDF 890KB) information sheet.

Implementation resources

Webinar series – “Preparing for voluntary assisted dying"

The ILT hosted a series of webinars in partnership with Victorian service providers which gave an opportunity to hear their experiences and learnings. The guest presenters from Victoria discussed their experience of implementation of voluntary assisted dying including aspects such as: individual and service preparation approach, what worked well and other learnings. Speakers at each of the webinars are listed below.

19 November – Palliative Care providers

Led by ILT member Elissa Campbell
Alison Smith and Dr Becky Chapman – Bendigo Health (PDF 361KB)
Dr Greg Mewett – Grampians Regional Palliative Care Team

23 November – Hospital and related service providers

Led by ILT member Christopher Etherton-Beer
Eliza Armstrong and Suzie Hooper – Epworth Healthcare (PDF 2.3MB)
Dr Danielle Ko – Austin Health (PDF 896KB)
Dr Mark Boughey – St Vincent’s Hospital (PDF 1.3MB)

24 November – General Practitioners and Nurse Practitioners

Led by ILT member Chris Kane
Dr Deb Harley – General Practitioner, Victoria

25 November – Residential aged care providers

Led by ILT member Scott Blackwell
Dr Peter Lange – Geriatrician, Victoria (PDF 219KB)

Presentations

Fact sheets

If reading this information on voluntary assisted dying has raised distressing issues for you the following helplines can be contacted for support:

LifeLine WA 13 11 14 (available 24/7) or online chat www.lifelinewa.org.au 
The Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 (available 24/7) or online chat www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Last reviewed: 07-05-2021
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Health Networks