Voluntary Assisted Dying

  • As of 1 July 2021, voluntary assisted dying is a choice available to eligible people under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019.
  • 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 can now 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 their suffering cannot be relieved in a manner tolerable to them.
  • The term ‘voluntary assisted dying’ emphasises the voluntary nature of the choice of the person and their enduring capacity to make this decision.

 

 

Practitioner training

 

 

 

 

VAD First Request

(Health professionals)

 


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 commenced upon proclamation on 1 July 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).

The Director General of the Department of Health (as CEO under the Act) has published the following in accordance with the Act:

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.

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

The material on this site is provided in good faith by the Department of Health to assist the community and health practitioners understand the framework for voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given that the information is free from error or omission.

It is the responsibility of the user to make their own enquiries and decisions about relevance, accuracy, currency and applicability of information in this circumstance. The information on this site is not intended to be, nor should it be, relied upon as a substitute for legal, clinical or other professional advice.

View the full Department of Health website disclaimer.

Last reviewed: 20-07-2021
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