After lengthy debate, NSW now has the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 (VADA).
VADA will allow “eligible people” to choose to access assisted dying.
Between now and then, there is something of an implementation period. During that period, amongst other things, NSW Health is working up implementation policies to address the many relevant issues, including that a Medical Practitioner can decline to participate. The implementation policies include information for Health Practitioners as well as members of the public. Details of those implementation methodologies will be on the NSW Health website from time to time
The most important thing to note is that the use of VADA is totally voluntary. Interestingly, medical practitioners cannot initiate discussions nor implementation.
To obtain medical help to assist time, a person must: –
- be an Australian citizen over 18 years, living in New South Wales for at least 12 months
- be in the late stages of advanced disease or illness likely to cause death within six months (or 12 months for degenerative neurological diseases)
- be in unbearable pain and suffering
- be totally voluntary.
Where the requirements are met, the person can take or be administered a substance to bring about their death at a time they choose. That substance must be prescribed by an authorised eligible doctor.
VADA will necessarily dovetail with Advanced Care Directives, Wills and Enduring Guardianship arrangements.
Accordingly, it would seem prudent for those interested in making use of VADA to discuss their intentions with all relevant parties as early as practicable. To minimise risk of allegations of unsoundness of mind, it would appear prudent to raise the issue and document one’s intention as early as possible, supported by appropriate medical advice as to capacity.
The implementation period allows for detailed consideration of the many issues concerning all involved. There is no need for haste but it is, of course, good to start thinking about these things earlier rather than later, particularly if one anticipates adverse reactions from family or friends.
VADA deals with a very sensitive issue. The delayed start and implementation allows due consideration of issues by all relevant parties.
If you seek further information or if I can be of assistance, feel free to contact me, your usual Eakin McCaffery Cox contact or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above was prepared for and is intended to provide a broad general overview of issues only 8.8.22. It is not intended, and must not be relied upon, as definitive legal advice.