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Thematic Issue: Power, Workers and the Law

Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia: A Comparative and Critical Analysis of State Laws


Katherine Waller, Katrine Del Villar, Lindy Willmott and Ben P White

In the last five years, voluntary assisted dying (‘VAD’) has been legalised in all six Australian states, after more than two decades of unsuccessful law reform efforts. After Victoria first legalised VAD, other Australian states largely followed the Victorian framework. The resultant ‘Australian model’ of VAD is highly prescriptive and includes narrow eligibility requirements, a highly regulated request and assessment process, pre-authorisation before administration of VAD in four states, and contemporaneous reporting throughout the process. However, in light of the early Victorian experience, some state laws have significantly departed from the Victorian model: notably introducing more flexible eligibility criteria, different criteria to choose practitioner administration of VAD, and provisions regulating non- participation by facilities. This article compares and evaluates the key variations between Australian VAD laws and identifies opportunities for reform, which may inform the legislatively mandated reviews of each state’s VAD laws and potential law reform in the territories.

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