Following the passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2022 (NSW), New South Wales became the last jurisdiction in Australia to provide terminally ill adults with the ability to choose to end their lives.
Who can access voluntary assisted dying?
Adults in NSW with decision-making capacity who have been diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that is:
- advanced and progressive and if neurodegenerative will cause death within 12 months or otherwise within six months; and
- causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a way the person considers tolerable.
Section 16 of the bill provides that before making the first request; the person has been ordinarily resident in New South Wales for at least 12 months.
For the person to have decision-making capacity, they need to understand and assess the following:
- advice about voluntary assisted dying;
- what’s involved in a voluntary assisted dying decision; and
- the effect of a voluntary assisted dying decision.
The person cannot lose decision-making capacity throughout the decision-making process.
A person who is disabled has dementia, or has a mental health impairment has to demonstrate they meet the eligibility criteria.
As with other jurisdictions that have enacted voluntary assisted dying legislation, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2022 (NSW) will not take effect until 18 months after assent to allow for the training of medical practitioners and other healthcare professionals.