Victorian Government adopts ministerial advisory panel's recommendations for voluntary assisted dying bill

All 66 recommendations by the Ministerial Advisory Panel on voluntary assisted dying will be incorporated into a bill to be introduced in state parliament in coming months.
Photo: NICOLAS WALKER
All 66 recommendations by the Ministerial Advisory Panel on voluntary assisted dying will be incorporated into a bill to be introduced in state parliament in coming months. Photo: NICOLAS WALKER

RELATED:

UPDATE 1pm: MEMBER for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, has welcomed the decision to adopt each of the panel’s 66 recommendations into the voluntary assisted dying bill.

She described the state government’s announcement as “the commencement of what will be a very important dialogue,” and encouraged people to read the panel’s final report. 

The panel’s recommendations will shape the bill to be introduced in the Victorian Parliament. 

Ms Edwards, who has previously voiced her support for the proposal, stressed the importance of the word ‘voluntary’ in the legislation.

“I think people are forgetting it’s a choice,” she said. 

“You don’t have to do this. I think the report actually highlighted this point.”

She said the person’s individual choice was a crucial element of the debate, which she hoped would be respectfully conducted when the bill comes before the parliament. 

Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, has been contacted for comment. 

(Story continues below document)

EARLIER: THE Victorian Parliament is a step closer to voting on voluntary assisted dying, with the state government today announcing details to be included in the bill.

It follows the release of the ministerial advisory panel’s final report on the topic, which it has been investigating for the past six months. 

The state government said it would incorporate all 66 of the panel’s recommendations into a bill, to be introduced in parliament “in coming months”. 

“This is about compassion and choice, and giving Victorians the support and care they deserve in their final moments,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

He said the panel’s recommendations – including 68 safeguards – would make the proposed scheme the safest in the world, “with the most rigorous checks and balances”.

Access to voluntary assisted dying would be restricted to Victorian adults who are suffering from a terminal illness.

They must have decision-making capacity and 12 months or less to live. 

The scheme recommended by the panel would be predominately self-administered.

A new Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board would review every case, and new criminal offences would be established to ensure people were not trying to act outside the law.

(Story continues below chart)

The fate of the bill will be determined by a conscience vote in state parliament, to take place “before the end of the year”. 

“This scheme has been developed by leading legal, medical and palliative care experts and includes significant safeguards and protections,” Attorney-General Martin Pakula said.

The panel was led by neurosurgeon and former Australian Medical Association president Dr Brian Owler, and consisted of clinical, legal, consumer, palliative care and health experts.

More than 300 stakeholders had input into the consultation process. 

“We know we need to do better and give those Victorians at the end of their life a choice – and that’s exactly what this safe, compassionate and considered framework will do,” Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said.