Premier says Victorians have confidence in the state’s voluntary assisted dying scheme
The latest voluntary assisted dying report from Victoria shows 306 people have died in the past year, an increase of 11 percent.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board in Victoria has tabled its latest annual report in parliament.
Between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, the Board received 649 voluntary assisted dying (VAD) applications with 306 people proceeding to an assisted death.
The figures represent a steady increase on the previous year, attributed to greater awareness of and confidence in the service.
Board Chair Julian Gardner emphasised that the number of people accessing VAD was not the only indicator of the benefit of the program. Many people apply and receive the substance but never go on to use it, instead receiving immense peace of mind knowing it was at hand.
“Furthermore, there are people who never apply for voluntary assisted dying but receive comfort from knowing that there is an option to do so.
"Also, there are family members and loved ones who report comfort from seeing a person relieved of suffering and being able to access a dignified end of life on their own terms.”
The Board also pointed to the significant number of applicants who die before they obtain the substance because they do not realise how long the application process can take and leave their request too late.
Between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023:
- 306 people died via VAD
- 257 self-administration permits and 49 practitioner-administration permits were issued
- 137 people with VAD permits died before taking the substance
- The median time frame from first to last request is 16 days, and from first request to dispensing of the substance is 34 days.
- 734 medical practitioners have registered for the training (as of 30 June 2023) with 347 completing the training and registering in the portal
- There are 208 active VAD practitioners, with 60% living in metropolitan Melbourne and 40% in regional Victoria.
The Board acknowledged the increase in the number of VAD practitioners, noting that the distribution is broadly consistent with Victoria’s population distribution though there were some large areas in the state with few, if any, doctors. This meant health care professionals had to travel long distances to meet people face-to-face so they could request VAD.
One family member said, “We were lucky that we had a doctor in town because it really got to the point that dad couldn’t have travelled if we had needed to do that for appointments.”
Five year review
Based on feedback received throughout the year, the Board highlighted a number of areas for improvement including barriers to access, doctor remuneration, out of pocket costs for patients, and process delays.
Read the full report here.