ACT residents to access voluntary assisted dying


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On 5 June 2024, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2023, thereby enacting the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2023 (‘The Act’).[1] The Act will commence on 3 November 2025, with the aim to provide a legal framework for terminally ill adults in the ACT to voluntarily seek medical assistance to end their own lives. The Act offers a compassionate choice for individuals suffering from incurable conditions within a safeguarded, lawful and regulated environment.

The Act clearly defines the eligibility criteria and instils safeguards for individuals to access Voluntary Assisted Dying by requiring individuals to follow a set process. Voluntary Assisted Dying in this context refers to a medical process which provides the opportunity for individuals who are suffering and dying to request assistance in consultation with two independent authorised health practitioners to end their life by way of administering an approved substance. To be eligible, a person must be an adult resident of the ACT experiencing intolerable suffering from a condition or conditions which are advanced, progressive, and expected to cause death. Importantly, they must have decision-making capacity throughout the process and make the request voluntarily.

In conjunction with providing the roadmap for individuals to access Voluntary Assisted Dying, the Act also sets out the directions and guidelines for authorised health practitioners who choose to be involved in the process. The Act mandates a rigorous assessment process, including multiple evaluations by at least 2 independent, qualified healthcare practitioners. Measures are included to ensure the individual is aware of their options, and that the practitioners confirm the diagnosis, prognosis, and the individuals’ mental capacity to make an informed decision. Further safeguards to prevent abuse and ensure transparency are reflected in the strict documentation and reporting requirements, including mandatory reporting to a review board overseeing compliance.

The Act significantly reforms the view of Voluntary Assisted Dying in the ACT and is an important milestone in end-of-life care. Many consider the Act provides dignity on death by facilitating an informed and autonomous decision-making procedure for individuals who face such difficult circumstances in their lives.

For further information or if you have any estate related queries or concerns, please contact our Estates and Estates Planning Team.

[1] Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2023 (ACT).

Ying would like to acknowledge Bridgette Penfold for her assistance in writing this article.

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