Legislative Options to Address Institutional Objections to Voluntary Assisted Dying

CPD Hours: 1.5
Current as at 19 October 2021
The Australian state of Victoria legalised voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in June 2019. Like most jurisdictions with legalised VAD, Victorian law constructs physicians as the only legal providers of VAD.

Tags:

“Learn about how institutional objections to VAD in Australia are currently regulated”

Course Content

The Australian state of Victoria legalised voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in June 2019. Like most jurisdictions with legalised VAD, Victorian law constructs physicians as the only legal providers of VAD.

Physicians with a conscientious objection to VAD are not compelled to participate in the practice, requiring colleagues who are willing to participate to transact the process for eligible applicants.

The VAD Bill Victoria (2017) consists of 10 substantive parts.

  • Part 1 provides definitions and principles,
  • Part 2 specifies criteria for accessing voluntary assisted dying,
  • Part 3 creates novel positions of “coordinating” and “consulting” medical practitioners empowered to organise eligibility assessments of patients who request voluntary assisted dying.
  • Part 4 deals with several kinds of “voluntary assisted dying permits” to be obtained through Pt 3 administrative procedures.
  • Part 5 prescribes the actual process of dispensing poisons, administering them and notifying the Registrar of the cause of death.
  • Part 6 lists two grounds (residence and decision-making capacity) on which “eligible applicants” can apply for a review by VCAT.
  • Part 7 provides for notifications to health practitioners” who, while providing “health services or professional care services to a person”, initiate, or attempt to initiate, a discussion “that is in substance about voluntary assisted dying that is not, or would not be, in accordance with this [VAD] Act”.
  • Part 8 creates offences that include failure by a coordinating medical practitioner to “administer to a person who is the subject of a practitioner administration permit a voluntary assisted dying substance specified in that permit”; prohibits “knowingly administer[ring] to another person a voluntary assisted dying substance dispensed in accordance with a self-administration permit”; and proscribes inducing another person “by dishonesty or undue influence” to “make a request for access to voluntary assisted dying” or “to self-administer a voluntary assisted dying substance dispensed in accordance with a self-administration permit”.
  • Part 9 creates a Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, which “has all the powers that are necessary or convenient to perform its functions”, including monitoring “matters related to voluntary assisted dying”; reviewing “the exercise of any function or power under this [VAD] Act”; providing “reports to each House of the Parliament on the operation of this [VAD] Act and any recommendations for the improvement of voluntary assisted dying”; advising the Minister; promoting compliance; and referring “any issue identified by the Board in relation to voluntary assisted dying that is relevant to the Chief Commissioner of Police, the State Coroner, and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency”.
  • Part 10 vests in the Governor in Council very wide powers to “make regulations for or with respect to any matter or thing required or permitted by this [VAD] Act”.

Learning Outcomes

In this session, you will:

  • Learn about how institutional objections to VAD in Australia are currently regulated
  • Discuss the potential consequences of such objections
  • Explore individual’s right to conscientiously object, and discuss whether an institution itself can have a conscientious objection 
  • Investigate possible legislative responses
The Nursing CPD Institute

Join NCPDI to access this content.


Join Now

Login if you already have an account.


Login