Voluntary Assisted Dying Act
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 was passed in Queensland Parliament in September 2021. Currently, it is undergoing an implementation period and is scheduled for operation from 1 January 2023.
The VAD Act allows for eligible Queensland residents to seek Voluntary Assisted Dying in circumstances relating to terminal illness and intolerable suffering. As per Queensland Health, 'The Act sets out a legal process for people who are suffering and dying from an advanced and progressive life-limiting condition the right to choose the timing and circumstances of their death.'
End of Life and Advance Care
'In Queensland there are three ways you can record your choices for future health care':
End of Life and Advance Care planning are important aspects to managing health. Advance Care Planning Australia provides resources for people learning about advance care or wanting to prepare themselves for the future.
Other resources of interest to patients and medical practitioners include:
Voluntary Assisted Dying and using a carriage service
VAD AND THE LEGALITY OF USING A TELEPHONE OR INTERNET SERVICE: Although laws on VAD are a State responsibility, a hurdle to implementation has come from the Criminal Code Act 1995. This Act has led State governments to instruct health practitioners to avoid discussing or facilitating VAD via telephone or telehealth. Read the article by Katrine Del Villar, Elana Close, Rachel Hews and Qld Professors Lindy Willmott and Ben White.
Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia's states and territories
The July/August edition of Australian Aging Agenda provides a fantastic breakdown of VAD in Australia's states and territories. It also carries a useful factsheet about VAD and the implications for aged care.
This article addresses the need to restore the ACT's and NT's democratic rights by ensuring they can consider legislation such as Voluntary Assisted Dying. Also covered is a history of self-governing in the territories and the importance of adequate representation.
Helpful Resources and Information
The below notes include weblinks which contain excellent information
Now that VAD is legal, is VAD considered in Advanced Health Directives? (No, Advance Health Directives do not currently incorporate VAD)
Is it legal for a VAD-trained health professional to consult with a patient seeking VAD by "using a carriage service" i.e. computer/ telephone etc? In 2005 through the federal Criminal Code Amendment (Suicide Related Materials Offences) Act made it illegal to facilitate suicide by using a carriage service. How is it enforced? What happens now that VAD is legal? (This is a legal grey area. Multiple Attorneys General of states that have passed VAD, including Qld, have written to the fed govt asking for the fed law to be amended to provide legal certainty to jurisdictions that have legalised VAD)
Could the VAD Act be repealed or watered down in the future? (Yes, it could absolutely be repealed or watered down by a future govt. The Qld LNP party platform opposes VAD)
showing an average of 84 suicides annually by Qlders with a terminal or debilitating medical condition – see the attached document.
Who will be eligible to access VAD in Qld?:
Is there additional mandatory training for health professionals who wish to be involved in provision of VAD services? (Yes, absolutely – a mandatory training course is currently being developed)
Can a health professional refuse to be involved in provision of VAD services? (Yes, absolutely, conscientious objection is allowed under the Act)
When does the law take effect (answer - on 1 January 2023)
The VAD Care Navigator Service will be a good point-of-contact for anyone wanting more information about VAD, or who wishes to find a VAD-trained doctor and to apply to access VAD.
A VAD Review Board is being established and they will examine all applications for VAD, and all cases where a person used VAD, to ensure that the law has worked as intended and that there has been no abuse of the law. The Victorian VAD Review Board has released multiple reports which confirm that the Vic law is working exactly as intended and that the law has not been abused.
A review of the VAD Act will be held three years after the law takes effect.
Submitted by Phil Browne, DWDQ Fraser Coast Coordinator.