South Australia passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying law in June 2021. Eligible terminally ill people can begin accessing the law from 31 January 2023.
To use the law, a person must be:
Diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition that:
- is advanced, progressive and will cause death within six months (or 12 months if you have a neurodegenerative disorder, such as motor neurone disease)
- is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person finds tolerable
- Capable of making decisions about their medical treatment and communicate those decisions throughout the assessment process
- Acting freely and without coercion
- Aged 18+
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident who has lived in South Australia for at least 12 months
How can I learn more about voluntary assisted dying in South Australia
There are two ways to find out more.
- Ask your doctor. This could be your GP or a specialist. It is very important you start the conversation first because in South Australia doctors and healthcare workers are not allowed to raise it with you. Once you ask them about Voluntary Assisted Dying, they can tell you about the next steps. If your doctor can’t help you (they may not have done the voluntary assisted dying training or they may not want to be involved, known as “conscientious objection”) you are entitled to look for another doctor who is willing to help.
- Contact the VAD Care Navigator Service SAVAD-CNS . They are trained health professionals who provide information about voluntary assisted dying, and are best-placed to answer questions and guide you through the process. You can contact them by email and phone during standard business hours (9.00 am to 5:00 pm). For more information go to the South Australian Department of Health website.
- You must raise the topic of voluntary assisted dying with your doctor yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. This makes it clear that you are acting of your own free will and no-one is trying to influence you.
- If the first doctor you speak to cannot help you (if they are not trained or they have opted out of voluntary assisted dying, known as 'conscientious objection'), you are well within your rights to seek another doctor’s opinion.
- To avoid stress and delays, start the process early. It can take weeks. For example, you must make three separate requests, be assessed by two doctors and there may be extra appointments if there are questions about your eligibility.
- Prepare your documents. Some you may need to include: your birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate (if you have changed your name) and proof of residence in South Australia. Your doctor and/or the VAD Care Navigator Service SAVAD-CNS can help you with these.
- In some exceptional cases, an application for voluntary assisted dying can be done more quickly if, for example, there is a risk you might die before the assessment process is finished. Ask your doctor and the VAD Care Navigator Service SAVAD-CNS if you think this might apply to you.
- If you live in a rural, regional or remote part of the state there may be additional support available to help you access VAD services. Contact the VAD Care Navigator Service SAVAD-CNS for more information.
- If you live in an aged care facility or retirement village, speak to the staff about your wish to use voluntary assisted dying as soon as possible. Not all facilities will actively particpate in voluntary assisted dying and you may need to make extra arrangements to bring external VAD doctors and support staff onto the premises.
- If you feel comfortable, you may want to discuss your wishes with your loved ones and medical team. However, if you prefer not to, it’s perfectly legal to keep your medical choices confidential.
- Voluntary Assisted Dying is voluntary for everyone. You can pause your application, or stop it altogether, if you change your mind at any time.