Queensland parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act on 16 September 2021. The law will come into efffect on 1 January 2023.
The road to legalising medical assistance to die for eligible terminallly ill Queenslanders was a long one.
In 2018 parliament commenced its Inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying. It received some 5,000 submissions and took some 18 months to complete. Its report was tabed in March 2020.
Before the election in October 2020, the Queensland Government committed to proceeding with draft legislation.
After the election, the Government referred the matter to the Queensland Law Reform Commission which undertook a detailed review and presented its full 888 page report in May 2021. A summary report is also available. Then the bill was referred to the Health and Environment Committee, which is undertook a 12-week Inquiry into the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.
Visit our FAQ page to find out more about Voluntary Assisted Dying.
How the law will work
The QLD Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 is closely modelled on the VIC, WA and TAS Voluntary Assisted Dying Acts. The key points are
- The person must be 18 years or over; and
- Be a resident of Queensland for at least 12 months and an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and
- Have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying; and
- Act voluntary without coercion; and
- Be diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition that:
- is advanced, progressive and will cause death; and
- is expected to cause death within 12 months
- is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.
- To access the regime, a person has to make one verbal requests and two written requests.
- Those requests have to be signed off by two doctors who are independent of each other.
- There will be a minimum of nine days between the initial request and final approval.
- A person may opt for self-administration or a medical practitioner to administer the drug.
- Doctors and other healthcare workers are permitted to raise the option of assisted dying with their patients, if all other treatment options are also discussed.
- The person must make the request themselves. Nobody else is authorised to make the request, and the request cannot be made via an advance care directive.
- The person must maintain decision-making capacity.
- Participating health practitioners must complete training for voluntary assisted dying.
- Any healthcare worker may decline to participate for any reason, without penalty.
- Institutions may decline to participate but must to hinder access in certain circumstances.
- A Review Board will be established to receive assisted dying reports, to assess reports, and to refer unacceptable cases to disciplinary or prosecutorial authorities.
- Parliament will periodically review the law and summary reports.
Read more about the Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation at Queensland Health.