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Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 (NSW)

Karina Penfold Karina Penfold ||

On the 19th of May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 (NSW).

Although the Bill has been passed, it will not come into effect until the end of 2023. There is an 18-months period to allow a Voluntary Assisted Dying Board to be created and implemented to ensure safeguarding of the practice. It will also allow medical practitioners to complete the mandatory training required to be able to assess patients electing voluntary assisted dying.

VIC and WA are the only states who have completed their 18-month waiting period and where the legislation is officially in use. Both states saw a significant number of people elect voluntary assisted dying as soon as the legislation came into effect, with 400 people registering for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria within the first 12 months of the legislation being enacted.

Advocates for voluntary assisted dying say that it provides a sense of relief to people who are terminally ill in that they can take back control of their life, reinforcing their inalienable right to self-determination.

Once the law becomes effective in NSW, to be eligible for voluntary assisted dying under the legislation, you must be:

  • An adult (18+); and
  • Have the requisite capacity to decide to end your life; and
  • Have been diagnosed with an advanced/progressive disease that will likely cause death within 6 months (extended to 12 months if a neurodegenerative condition); and
  • Be acting voluntarily with no duress or pressure; and
  • Have been assessed as eligible by two medical practitioners who have completed the mandatory training.

A point of differentiation of the proposed NSW legislation in comparison to other states is under the NSW Act, people can choose to take the assisted dying medication themselves or can elect to have a medical practitioner administer the medication; all other states adopt the default position that the medication will be self-administered.

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