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How the SA law will work

In April 2019, a Joint Committee of the South Australian Parliament was established to commence its Inquiry into End of Life Choices. Its report was tabed in October 2020.

The Hon Kyam Maher MLC, who had chaired the Joint Committee, introduced a Private Members' Bill in the Upper House in December 2020. The bill is very closely modelled on the Victorian Bill. 

On 5 May the bill was passed in the Upper House with 14 votes to 7. On 26 May 2021 the Lower House voted 33-5 to debate the bill in detail. After amendments which saw the bill returned to the Upper House, which passed another amendment, the bill was finally passed on 24 June 2021.

SA Health has indicated the implementation will take 18 to 24 months.

How it will work

The key points of the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020 are:

  • The person must be 18 years or over; and
  • Be a resident of Victoria for at least 12 months and an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and
  • Have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying; 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 6 months (or 12 months in case of a neuro-degenerative disorder)
    • is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.
  • Doctors and other healthcare workers are not permitted to raise assisted dying — only to respond to formal patient requests.
  • The person must make three formal requests, the second of which must be written and witnessed by two independent people.
  • 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.
  • Ordinarily, the minimum time frame between first request and opportunity to take the medication is ten days.
  • The person must maintain decisional capacity at all three requests.
  • Two doctors must reach independent assessments that the person qualifies.
  • Only doctors who have completed specialist training for voluntary assisted dying may participate.
  • Any healthcare worker may decline to participate for any reason, without penalty.
  • A prescription dispensed for the purpose of voluntary assisted dying must be kept in a locked box and any unused portion returned to the pharmacy after death.
  • The person must self-administer the medication. If the person is unable to do so, a doctor may administer. An independent witness is required if the doctor administers.
  • For an authority is established to receive assisted dying reports, to assess reports, and to refer unacceptable cases to disciplinary or prosecutorial authorities.
  • For Parliament to review summary reports; twice in the first two years and annually thereafter; a formal review at five years.

 

Read more about the Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation at the SA Department of Health.

 


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