South Australia becomes the fourth state in Australia to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. South Australia joins Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania in now having a law which allows compassion and choice for those suffering with a terminal illness at the end of their life.
12m Australians now live in a state where an assisted death will be possible.
Enormous thanks to Hon Kyam Maher and Dr Susan Close for shepherding the VAD Bill through a sometimes unpredictable Parliament, showing amazing patience and tolerance in responding to the many misinformed claims of opponents.
South Australia's legislation is almost the same as the VAD Act (2017) in Victoria which has now been in operation for two years. The major difference relates to institutions being able to have a conscientious objection to participating in any aspect of the VAD process.
Faith based private hospitals, such as those run by the Catholic or Lutheran Churches, which have expressed opposition to voluntary assisted dying, will be able to exclude any aspect of VAD on their premises.
It will now be important that South Australians who may wish to request VAD include a statement in their Advance Care Directive that they do not wish to be treated in a Catholic or Lutheran institution.
Residents of aged care facilities or retirement villages managed by a Catholic or Lutheran agency will always have the choice of voluntary assisted dying. While the agency may say they will not participate in any aspect of the VAD process, they must allow residents to consult with their own doctor and support team in their residence to facilitate the VAD process. Management must also facilitate the transfer of anyone to an appointment associated with VAD, regardless of the agency's position on VAD.
It is anticipated that voluntary assisted dying will be available in South Australia by mid to late 2022.
Western Australia's legislation comes into operation on July 1.
Images show some of the team who worked hard to achieve a compassionate end of life choice in South Australia.
Those pictured were at Parliament House on the morning of June 24 for the final passage of the VAD Bill. Frances Coombe, VADSA President, shown holding the 4, has been working for a compassionate choice for three decades, seeing the 17 previous Bills presented to the Parliament. The 4 represents South Australia being the fourth Australian state to pass a VAD law.
The large group shows (l to r) Kyam Maher MLC, Liz Habermann (advocate from the West Coast), Laine Anderson (VADSA media person), Frances Coombe (VADSA President), Rob Bonner (ANMF), Anne Bunning (VADSA Policy Director), Dr Susan Close.