MEMBERS STATEMENT | VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING

Mr Melhem: Today Victoria’s landmark voluntary assisted dying laws come into effect, with patients suffering from a terminal illness able to make an initial request for access to the scheme. Everyone deserves to die with dignity. The Andrews Labor government has recognised this, which is why in 2017 laws were passed in the Parliament to give Victorians a choice about the timing and manner of their death. Only a small number of people will choose to access this legislation, but for those who do, it will be significant for them and their families. Victoria’s assisted dying model is the safest and most conservative model in the world, with a number of important safeguards. This option is only available to adults with decision-making capacity who are suffering and have an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness or medical condition that is likely to cause death within six months, or 12 months for people with neurodegenerative conditions. There are also a number of other criteria, including the need to have two independent medical assessments and to make three clear requests, with consequences for health practitioners who raise the issue. All requests need to be approved by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board. Specialist training is available to health practitioners to equip them in assessing the eligibility of patients to access voluntary assisted dying. Around 100 doctors are already undertaking this training. Distribution of voluntary assisted dying medication will also be centralised at a single Melbourne-based pharmacy, with services also available for those too sick to travel. This is a historic change for Victoria and for the whole of Australia. This change will be an important step to seeing voluntary assisted dying legislation adopted across the entire country in the future.