Western Australia passed a Voluntary Assisted Dying law in December 2019. The law came into effect in July 2021.
To use the law, a person must be:
- Aged 18+
- An Australian citizen or permanent resident who has lived in Victoria for at least 12 months
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
How can I learn more about voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia?
There are two ways to find out more about voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.
Ask your doctor. This could be your GP or a specialist. In Western Australia, doctors and healthcare workers are allowed to raise the topic of voluntary assisted dying with you, as long as they also tell you about other end-of-life options. However, some doctors may not readily offer information, so it is important that you ask.
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 WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigators. 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 [email protected] or telephone (08) 9431 2755.
- 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.
- 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 Western Australia. Your doctor and/or Care 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 Care Navigators if you think this might apply to 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.
- 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 all involved. You can pause your application, or stop it altogether if you change your mind at any time.