VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING

Minister’s Statement

I rise to update the house on the first six months of Victoria’s historic voluntary assisted dying laws. I want to thank the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, chaired by Her Honour Betty King, for their hard work and great care in producing the board’s second report, tabled in this Parliament yesterday. These nation-leading laws are giving Victorians with an incurable illness a compassionate choice over the timing and manner of their death and relief from their suffering.

Between 19 June and 31 December 2019, 52 Victorians suffering from a terminal illness exercised their right to make this choice. That is what these voluntary assisted dying laws are all about: giving people an additional, compassionate choice at the end of their lives. The report confirms that all cases reviewed were compliant with the law. This is the most conservative scheme in the world, framed with 68 safeguards. This report provides reassurance to the community that voluntary assisted dying laws in Victoria are working safely, as intended.

I want to thank the care navigators, the statewide pharmacy service and all our medical practitioners who are providing care to their patients. You are part of history, and I thank you for your expertise and your compassion. We now have more than 370 doctors who have either completed or are undertaking the mandatory training, a third of whom practise in regional Victoria.

Most of all I want to thank the families of patients who accessed voluntary assisted dying. Amongst the most moving conversations I have had as Minister for Health have been those with family members who are grateful to have seen a loved one fulfil their wishes and to have had the opportunity to say goodbye. I want families to know that they are doing a great service in sharing their experience and insights with the review board, and I encourage them to continue to do so. We want to ensure that we are providing the highest quality, safest and most compassionate care to Victorians at the end of their lives.