• Written by Courtney Hempton, Associate Research Fellow, Deakin University
If the bill clears its final hurdle next week, Western Australia will become the second state in Australia after Victoria to legalise voluntary assisted dying. from www.shutterstock.com

Western Australia is on the brink of becoming the second state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying, with its upper house last night passing the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 (WA).

A total of 55 amendments to the initial version of the bill were passed. The bill will return to the lower house next week to review the amendments.

If these amendments are ratified as expected, WA will follow the historic introduction of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria, where the option has been available since June 2019.

Remind me again, how did we get here?

WA Premier Mark McGowan announced the government’s voluntary assisted dying bill in August 2019.

The proposed legislation was developed after recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry into end of life choices, and subsequent ministerial expert panel on voluntary assisted dying.

After lengthy debate, the bill passed the lower house in September (45 votes to 11).

Debate in the upper house was also extensive, and hundreds of amendments to the bill were proposed. A total of 55 amendments were eventually included, and the bill passed the upper house last night by 24 votes to 11.


Read more: The fear that dare not speak its name: how language plays a role in the assisted dying debate


What does the proposed legislation permit?

The initial version of the bill featured 102 “safeguards”, including the regulation of access, the request and assessment process, administration and management of the voluntary assisted dying substance, mandatory reporting, protections for health practitioners, and oversight mechanisms.

As outlined in the proposed legislation, to access voluntary assisted dying in WA a person would need to:

  • be aged 18 years or more, and

  • have lived in WA for at least 12 months, and be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and

  • have the capacity to make decisions about voluntary assisted dying, and

  • be acting voluntarily and without coercion.

The person would also need to be diagnosed with a disease, illness, or medical condition that is:

  • advanced and progressive, and anticipated to cause death, and

  • anticipated to cause death within no more than six months, or no more than 12 months for those with a neurodegenerative diagnosis, and

  • causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a way the person considers tolerable.

A person would not be eligible to access voluntary assisted dying only because they have a disability or are diagnosed with a mental illness.


Read more: In places where it's legal, how many people are ending their lives using euthanasia?


Protections for health practitioners include provisions for “conscientious objection”. They would have the right to refuse to participate in the request and assessment process, and to participate in the prescription, supply, or administration of the voluntary assisted dying substance, including being present when it is administered.

In Western Australia, eligible patients are expected to be able to request voluntary assisted dying in about 18 months. from www.shutterstock.com

Most of the amendments passed by the upper house will not substantively change the eligibility criteria or process to access voluntary assisted dying from the model initially proposed.

WA’s proposed approach is broadly similar to the Victorian regime, although there are several key differences.


Read more: WA's take on assisted dying has many similarities with the Victorian law – and some important differences


What happens next?

In a special sitting next week, the WA lower house will vote on each of the amendments. Given support for the legislation in the lower house already, it is anticipated the amendments will be ratified.

If the bill passes as expected, it will be about 18 months until the law comes into effect in WA.


Read more: Passed away, kicked the bucket, pushing up daisies – the many ways we don't talk about death


Following a similar process to Victoria, there will be an “implementation period”. This will allow time to develop resources for health services, health practitioners, and community members, and for training.

WA will also establish a Voluntary Assisted Dying Board, an independent statutory body to oversee voluntary assisted dying.

Overall, health services and health practitioners in WA, including those who choose not to participate, will need to prepare for the state’s introduction of voluntary assisted dying.

Courtney Hempton receives funding from the Australian Government (Research Training Program Scholarship) and the Australian Research Council. She has previously been affiliated with the Monash Health Voluntary Assisted Dying Working Group and Voluntary Assisted Dying Steering Committee.

Authors: Courtney Hempton, Associate Research Fellow, Deakin University

Read more http://theconversation.com/western-australia-looks-set-to-legalise-voluntary-assisted-dying-heres-whats-likely-to-happen-from-next-week-128386

Yes, this continent was invaded in 1788 – an international law expert explains

Should we remember January 26 1788 as “Invasion Day”? The colonisation of Australia was an invasion from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective. But critics of the name &ld...

Rowan Nicholson, Associate Lecturer and Co-director of the Sydney Centre for International Law, University of Sydney - avatar Rowan Nicholson, Associate Lecturer and Co-director of the Sydney Centre for International Law, University of Sydney

29,000 cancers overdiagnosed in Australia in a single year

Men are 17% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than they were 30 years ago. fizkes/ShutterstockAlmost one in four cancers detected in men were overdiagnosed in 2012, according to our new research...

Alexandra Barratt, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney - avatar Alexandra Barratt, Professor of Public Health, University of Sydney

How a year of trying to buy nothing made me a smarter shopper and a better teacher

Year 7 students at the International School of Helsinki, Finland, doing a sustainable development exercise with the author (top left) and fellow teacher Rachael Thrash. Katja Lehtonen, Author provided...

Ellen Heyting, PhD student in Education and Head of Years 11 and 12, Monash University - avatar Ellen Heyting, PhD student in Education and Head of Years 11 and 12, Monash University

10½ commandments of writing

Things to keep in mind for writers young and old. Kenny Luo/UnsplashEvery author is asked by new writers for advice. There is, however, no all-encompassing, single answer that also happens to be corre...

Sean Williams, Lecturer, Flinders University - avatar Sean Williams, Lecturer, Flinders University

How smart were our ancestors? Turns out the answer isn't in brain size, but blood flow

Skulls hold clues to intelligence. (Clockwise from left: Australopithecus, orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee) Roger Seymour, Author providedHow did human intelligence evolve? Anthropologists have studied...

Roger S. Seymour, Professor Emeritus of Physiology, University of Adelaide - avatar Roger S. Seymour, Professor Emeritus of Physiology, University of Adelaide

The Wuhan coronavirus is now in Australia – here's what you need to know

New South Wales Health has confirmed three men in their 30s, 40s and 50s in Sydney have tested positive to the new Wuhan coronavirus after returning from China. This follows Australia’s first c...

Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Physician, Australian National University - avatar Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Physician, Australian National University

The best recipes for gin drink from around the world

Gin is a very interesting drink to explore. Gin is a surprisingly versatile drink when it comes to the flavor profile and can have different ranges of flavor profile when trying out different brands...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Most In-Demand Jobs for 2020

When choosing their career, a lot of people focus exclusively on the paycheck; however, this is definitely not all that matters. Whether or not a profession is in-demand will certainly affect the ...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

4 Ways Art and Creativity Raises Satisfied Children

Sydney is more than the Opera House, countless bars, and the harbour. Around it is the many suburbs that are excellent places to raise a family. From Hunters Hill to Gladesville, these areas offer...

News Company - avatar News Company

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company