Voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania
Tasmania was the third state to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying law in March 2021. The law came into effect in October 2022.
To use the law, a person must be:
Diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness, medical condition or injury 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 Tasmania for at least 12 months (or continuously resident in Australia for three years)
How can I learn more about voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania?
There are two ways to find out more about voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania.
- Ask your doctor. This could be your GP or a specialist. In Tasmania, unlike in some other states, a doctor can speak to you about voluntary assisted dying but only if they inform you about other treatment and care options at the same time. If you make it clear you want more information on Voluntary Assisted Dying, they can provide this.
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 Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying Navigation Service. 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 via email at [email protected] or call toll free on 1800 568 956 (Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM).
- You do not need to wait for your doctor to mention voluntary assisted dying to you. You can ask about it yourself. However, you must do this yourself - nobody 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. You may need: your birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate (if you have changed your name) and proof of residence in Tasmania. Your doctor and/or VAD Navigators 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 Navigators if you think this might apply to you.
- 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 allow voluntary assisted dying on their 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.
Tasmania's VAD Navigators
Trained health professionals who can answer questions and advise on your eligibility for voluntary assisted dying.
Tasmanian Government Dept of Health website
Clear, easy-to-read information about Tasmania's law and the VAD process
Dying with Dignity Tasmania
An advocacy group for end-of-life issues who can answer questions about VAD and played an important role in the passing of Tasmania's law
End of Life Law in Australia
Up-to-date research and information about end-of-life law in Australia from Queensland University of Technology