Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board Reports To Parliament

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board today tabled its first report of operations in the Victorian Parliament.

The Board, led by former Supreme Court Justice Betty King QC, is reviewing and monitoring the operation of Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying laws and will report to Parliament every six months for the first two years, before moving to annual reporting from 2022.

The first report covers 11 days – from 19 June to 30 June – and summarises the important work the Board has done to prepare doctors, patients and the community for the introduction of the laws. Future reports will include additional data that is not able to be released yet due to the need to protect privacy when numbers are very low.

Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying laws came into effect on 19 June, giving Victorians with a terminal illness a genuine and compassionate choice over the manner and timing of their death and relief from their suffering.

Victoria’s model is the most conservative in the world, with strict eligibility criteria. Only adults with decision-making capacity, who are suffering with an incurable, advanced and progressive illness that is likely to cause death within six months (or 12 months for people with neurodegenerative conditions) are eligible.

More than 300 doctors, including GPs, cancer specialists and palliative care clinicians from right around the state, are undertaking mandatory, specialist training. About a third practise in regional Victoria.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board will retrospectively review every instance of voluntary assisted dying, ensuring the highest safety standards are met.  The Board’s next report will be tabled by February 2020.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos

Voluntary assisted dying is giving Victorians suffering with an incurable disease a genuine and compassionate choice at the end of the lives.”

“This model is the most conservative in the world, with 68 safeguards, reflecting the will of the Victorian people.”

“The privacy and safety of Victorians who are suffering at the end of their lives – and that of their doctors and loves ones – remains paramount.”

Quotes attributable to Voluntary Assisted Dying Board Chairperson Betty King

“We will be able to report more fully in the future about how the laws are working – including data. But right now, the numbers are small and we need to protect the privacy of the patients and doctors who are using it.”

“Releasing deidentified data in the future reports will help the community have informed discussions about what is a very sensitive topic. It will also help us in making recommendations to improve how the law operates.”