End of Life Law - Mythbusters Voluntary Assisted Dying

Mythbusters: Voluntary Assisted Dying

Myth 1:

An aged care resident’s family or substitute decision-maker can request access to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) for the resident

No. Only the resident can request VAD, and only if they have capacity to decide they want to access VAD. The person’s request must be voluntary, meaning it is the person’s own choice to access VAD. Their request must also be enduring i.e. ongoing. There cannot be pressure, coercion or duress from another person (e.g. family or friends) to access VAD.

Myth 3:

All health professionals have to participate in VAD

No. A health professional can conscientiously object to participating in VAD. They may choose not to participate in some or all aspects of providing VAD. In some States, however, a health professional with a conscientious objection may still be required to provide certain information to a person wanting to access VAD. Learn more about the law in your State at End of Life Law in Australia.

Myth 2:

VAD occurs when a health professional provides pain relief medication which is intended to relieve a person’s pain and symptoms but coincidentally hastens their death

No. Giving pain relief with the intention of relieving a person’s pain and symptoms, not hastening death, is not VAD. It is lawful to provide pain relief so long as the intention is to relieve pain and symptoms, and it is done in accordance with good medical practice. Learn more about the law on providing pain and symptom relief in the End of Life Law Toolkit factsheet Legal Protection for Administering Pain and Symptom Relief.

Page updated 20 June 2022