The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 has the same key features of the VAD laws passed by all other states. It is modelled most closely on the WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019. Here is a summary of the key features of the NSW VAD Bill.
The person must:
- have reached 18 years of age
- be an Australian citizen or permanent resident and ordinarily resident in NS5 for at least 12 months
- have a disease, illness or medical condition that:
- is advanced, progressive and will cause death
- will, on the balance of probabilities, cause death within a period of 6 months, or in the case of a neurodegenerative disease (such as MS or MND), within a period of 12 months
- is causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable
- have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying (VAD)
- be acting voluntarily and without coercion
A person is not eligible for access to VAD solely on the basis of having a mental illness or a disability, but such people would qualify if they meet all other criteria.
Process of assessment of eligibility to access VAD
- The person must have two assessments of eligibility undertaken by separate and independent medical practitioners who meet specific registration, experience and training requirements.
- The person makes a first request to a medical practitioner. The request must be initiated by the person themselves. The request cannot be made by a substitute decision maker or included in an Advance Care Directive.
- The medical practitioner makes an assessment of the person’s eligibility. If they are unable to determine if the person meets the eligibility criteria they must refer the person for further assessment.
- If the person’s eligibility is confirmed, they are then referred to a second medical practitioner for the second assessment.
- If the person is ruled eligible by both medical practitioners, she/he must then make a second request for VAD in writing and in front of two independent witnesses.
- Before the person can access VAD they must make a third request. There must be at least 5 days between the first and third requests. The doctor makes sure the person is still eligible.
- A person in respect of whom the request and assessment process has been completed may decide at any time not to take any further step in relation to access to voluntary assisted dying.
Administration of the VAD substance
- The person may, in consultation with and on the advice of the coordinating medical practitioner -
- decide to self-administer a voluntary assisted dying substance (a self-administration decision); or
- decide that a voluntary assisted dying substance is to be administered to the patient by the administering practitioner (a practitioner administration decision).
- There are stringent rules governing the prescribing and the management of the VAD substance.
A health practitioner who has a conscientious objection to VAD may refuse to participate in the process, including the assessment of eligibility. The Bill allows healthcare facilities to object to provision of VAD on their premises, subject to certain conditions.