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Comparing the New South Wales and Victorian voluntary assisted dying bills


Amanda Lyons 16/11/2017 2:26:55 PM

Two states are debating voluntary assisted dying (VAD) bills in Australia this week.
 

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The Victorian VAD bill has been described as more ‘robust’ than the one being debated in NSW.

The New South Wales bill is starting its first debate by the state’s Legislative Council today, while the Victorian bill is undergoing its third reading this week, with the potential for a final vote in coming days.
 
The NSW and Victoria VAD bills are similar, but there are some significant differences:

  • Victorian applicants for VAD must be a resident of the state and an Australian citizen or permanent resident; those in NSW are required only to be a resident of state with decision-making capacity (ie capable of understanding the relevant information, assessing the consequences of any decisions, and of communicating their wishes).
  • The minimum age is 18 in Victoria, and 25 in NSW.
  • Requirements for access to VAD in Victoria specify that the illness must be ‘causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that is tolerable to the person’; people in NSW must be ‘experiencing severe pain, suffering or physical incapacity to an extent unacceptable to the patient’.
  • Both states require medical assessment from at least two medical practitioners, but the Victorian bill gives more detail about necessary practitioner qualifications.
  • NSW requires a psychiatric evaluation of the patient to confirm decision-making capacity; the Victorian bill does not, but doctors must refer the patient to a psychiatrist if they suspect mental illness.
  • After medical assessment, Victorian patients also need a permit from the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to access VAD, and must make two requests at least nine days apart; in NSW, once the patient has been examined by two doctors and a psychiatrist, all three practitioners complete a request certificate and VAD can be administered 48 later.
  • In Victoria, copies of all assessment reports and request documentation must be forwarded to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board within seven days; in NSW, routine external review will, in most cases, only take place after death.
The Victorian bill has been described as the more conservative and robust, and is government legislation. The NSW bill, however, is a private member’s bill, which are historically less likely to become law.


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