Voluntary assisted dying review (R79)
In May 2020, the Attorney-General asked us to conduct a review and recommend ‘the best legal framework for people who are suffering and dying to choose the manner and timing of their death in Queensland’. Our task was not to consider the desirability of introducing voluntary assisted dying legislation but instead recommend the contents of an appropriate voluntary assisted dying framework and draft a Bill based on those recommendations.
The Commission aimed to develop a draft law for Queensland that is compassionate, safe and practical.
Terms of Reference
The final report was published in two volumes (the report and the draft legislation) together with a summary report and a four page summary.
- A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying (R 79)
- A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying (R 79) - Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021
- A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying (R 79) - Report Summary
- A legal framework for voluntary assisted dying in Queensland (4 page summary)
The report’s essence
- Voluntary: the decisions to request access and to continue with the process must be made voluntarily and without coercion (including improper influence).
- Assisted by doctors and nurses. If a person is eligible and chooses to go to the final stage, they either self-administer a substance prescribed by a doctor or have an experienced doctor or nurse administer the substance so as to hasten, at the person’s request, their death.
- Dying: to be eligible the person must be suffering and dying. The person must be separately and independently assessed by two doctors (who meet the law's qualification and training rules) to be eligible.
- To be eligible under the draft Queensland law, the person must:
- have an eligible condition
- have decision-making capacity
- be acting voluntarily and without coercion
- be aged at least 18 years
- fulfil a residency requirement
The proposed scheme has many safeguards. The process of request and assessment involves three separate
requests that are clear and documented.
The process has a waiting period of at least 9 days between the first and final request.
The person must also be told, more than once, that they may decide at any time not to continue the
voluntary assisted dying process.
Our draft leglisation was based on the following princples:
- Human life is of fundamental importance.
- Every person has inherent dignity and should be treated equally and with compassion and respect.
- A person’s autonomy, including autonomy in relation to end-of-life choices, should be respected.
- Every person approaching the end-of-life should be provided with high quality care and treatment, including palliative care, to minimise the person’s suffering and maximise the person’s quality of life.
- Access to voluntary assisted dying and other end of life choices should be available regardless of where a person lives in Queensland.
- A person should be supported in making informed decisions about end-of-life choices.
- A person who is vulnerable should be protected from coercion and exploitation.
- A person’s freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief and enjoyment of their culture should be respected.
On 18 May 2021, our report was tabled in parliament and on 25 May 2021, the Queensland Government introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 (as drafted by us) into the Queensland Parliament.
The Bill was referred to the Health and Environment Parliamentary Committee for consideration. Extensive consultation was undertaken on the draft legislation during a 12-week inquiry. The committee’s report was tabled on Friday 20 August 2021, recommending the Bill be passed.
On 16 September 2021, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 was passed by the Queensland Parliament, without amendment.
- The Metro North Hospital and Health Services Voluntary Assisted Dying team has collaborated with Clinical Excellence Queensland and Queensland University of Technology – to document the first 100 days of VAD within Metro North Hospital and Health Services. The stories shared illustrate the unique perspective of patients, families, and staff.
- In October 2022, Queensland Health hosted the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Conference. Healthcare workers were invited to learn how voluntary assisted dying is being implemented to support the delivery of high quality, safe and compassionate services.