Voluntary Assisted Dying begins in SA

After 27 years, and 17 attempts at law reform, Voluntary Assisted Dying is now legal in South Australia.

"South Australians now have a compassionate choice to end their life in a manner and at a time of their choosing, providing they meet the strict VAD eligibility criteria," said Frances Coombe, VADSA President.

Ms Coombe thanked Hon Kyam Maher, MLC, who introduced the legislation and negotiated its successful passage through the South Australian Parliament in 2021, and Hon Susan Close, MP, who led the debate in the House of Assembly.

"Common sense and compassion has finally prevailed over the predominantly religious based opposition. Polls consistently report an over 80% support for VAD from christians, while the leadership of the catholic church in particular has maintained a strong and vocal opposition."

Ms Coombe commented that South Australia's VAD system was almost the same as Victoria, except in one important area, which was the opportunity for institutions to conscientiously object to VAD.

"This could cause confusion for people living in residential aged care. But it is important that everyone living permanently in residential aged care knows that they have the same rights to voluntary assisted dying as anyone else living in their own home.

"If you live permanently in a residential aged care unit, it is defined as your own home. In your own home you choose your own health and medical care - whether it be a cancer treatment, physiotherapy, or voluntary assisted dying. Regardless of the policy of the institution's management, permanent residents of aged care have an unhindered access to VAD.

"If you are transferred to a private hospital or hospice, different rules may apply and it is important to know the VAD policy of the hospital or hospice before you are admitted.

"All public hospitals and hospices will support VAD.

"We have been pleased to see so many doctors registering their interest in supporting their patients with their end of life choice and hope that more doctors will complete the VAD training as their patients ask for their support."

Ms Coombe emphasised that anyone with a terminal illness, and a prognosis of less than six months - or 12 months for a neurodegenerative disease - and who thinks they may wish to request VAD, realises that they need to talk to their doctor as soon as possible, because the VAD Act prohibits their doctor from mentioning VAD as an end of life option.

Information on how to request voluntary assisted dying and where to find a VAD trained doctor is available through SA Health VAD Care Navigators at 

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 0403 087 390

Picture: Hon Susan Close MP, Frances Coombe (VADSA President), Hon Kyam Maher MLC, Anne Bunning (VADSA Vice President)