Victoria leads the way with measured and empowering voluntary assisted dying legislation

June 18, 2019

Leading human rights lawyers have applauded today’s commencement of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, noting it provides terminally-ill Victorians who meet the relevant criteria with the autonomy to make informed decisions about their medical treatment and the timing and manner of their death, while also providing appropriate safeguards to protect vulnerable people from abuse.

“The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act will further empower and support terminally-ill Victorians to make their own treatment decisions, in combination with other recently-enacted laws around medical treatment planning and decision-making. ALHR hopes similar laws will be passed across Australia, so all Australians may be empowered to make these choices in a manner consistent with Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” said Kerry Weste, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR).

Ms Weste continued, “The  Act contains a range of very important safeguards for vulnerable people in the community, with a careful examination being required of the decision-making capacity of those wishing to take advantage of the legislation.”

“The legislation appears to strike a measured and appropriate balance between the rights of terminally-ill Victorians to make voluntary and properly informed decisions about end of life and the rights of vulnerable people who may be at risk of abuse.”

ALHR  notes the fact that the Act protects the rights of health practitioners to conscientiously object to participating in voluntary assisted dying processes. This is consistent with their human rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, as codified in section 14 of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities,” Ms Weste said.

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.