Voluntary Assisted Dying Act comes into effect

Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act (2017) came into effect yesterday.

Voluntary assisted dying means a person in the late stages of advanced disease can take a substance prescribed by a doctor that will bring about their death at a time they choose. Only people who meet the requirements and follow the steps set out in the law can access voluntary assisted dying.

The Act followed two years of consultation and development, and reflects a balance between giving people choices at the end of their life and ensuring community safety.

Victoria is the first state in Australia to pass voluntary assisted dying laws.

Voluntary assisted dying must be voluntary and initiated by the person themselves, and it will usually be self-administered. Only those who are already dying from an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition will be able to access voluntary assisted dying.

Additional information, including workflow information for health practitioners, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and contact details for the VAD Liaison Officer is available on Monash Health’s Voluntary Assisted Dying intranet page.

Key Considerations for all Health Practitioners

  1. You can’t raise voluntary assisted dying with a patient or suggest it
  • A health practitioner who is providing health or professional care services to a patient CANNOT initiate a discussion about voluntary assisted dying OR suggest voluntary assisted dying to the patient.
  • A patient must make an explicit request for voluntary assisted dying
  1. Monash Health has an escalation process for any patient enquiries regarding voluntary assisted dying
  • If a patient enquires about voluntary assisted dying, the enquiry is to be escalated to your clinical manager who will refer the patient to the senior medical staff member of the patient’s treating team for an end-of-life care discussion to review their end-of life care management plan, clarify the patient’s concerns and request.
  • A suitable response to a patient enquiry would be: “That’s a really important question, and we have designated staff here who will be able to have a conversation with you. I’d be happy to arrange this for you.”
  1. You can conscientiously object to involvement in voluntary assisted dying
  • If a health practitioner conscientiously objects to voluntary assisted dying they are under no obligation to participate, but they should not inhibit a person’s access to treatment.

A procedure on Voluntary Assisted Dying is on PROMPT.

A dedicated VAD Liaison Officer role has been created to assist employees and patients with their queries about VAD.

They can be contacted on Tel: 9594 4028 or VADliaison@monashhealth.org

For further general information on Voluntary Assisted Dying, visit: health.vic.gov.au/ 

Some people may find issues relating to end of life care upsetting. If reading the material or thinking about end-of-life care has raised some issues regarding grief and bereavement or personal crisis, the following support is available:

Monash Health ‘s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for employees, immediate family members and volunteers for short term counselling and coaching support. Tel: 1300 687 327

Lifeline – Tel: 13 11 14

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement – Tel: 1800 642 066