In June 2021 South Australia became the fourth state in Australia to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. South Australia joined Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania in having a law which would allow a compassionate choice for those suffering with a terminal illness at the end of their life.
12 months later, all Australians resident in an Australian state became eligible for an assisted death once their legislation commenced.
Following the passage of the Territory Rights Bill (Dec 2022) the NT and ACT Parliaments will now be able to debate VAD legislation.
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 since July 2019. The major difference is that in SA, institutions will be allowed 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 isimportant 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.
Voluntary Assisted Dying will be available in South Australia from January 31, 2023.
Western Australia's legislation came into operation on July 1, 2021.
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.