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Is voluntary assisted dying the same as euthanasia?


Technically, euthanasia means a doctor administers the life-ending substance to a dying person - rather than the person taking it themselves.

In Australia, the term ‘voluntary assisted dying’ covers both practices.

In the majority of cases in Victoria, people have taken the medication themselves. This is because in Victoria self-administration is the default method and only in cases where the person is too sick to take it themselves can a doctor step in to help. In Western Australia, where people are permitted to choose the method of administration, a significant majority elect for their doctor to administer the medication for them.

The term voluntary assisted dying is preferred in Australia because it also centres the dying person’s choice. VAD is not something that happens to you, but something you choose.

Other countries have chosen different words. For example, Canada uses the abbreviation MAiD, which stands for medical assistance in dying.