On 19 June 2019, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 came into effect in Victoria.
The law allows Victorians at the end of life who are suffering in the late stages of advanced disease, and who meet strict eligibility criteria, to request access to voluntary assisted dying.
Since the legislation passed in November 2017, the government and other relevant bodies have worked on how the law will be implemented, with the law allowing for an 18-month implementation period to give health services time to plan and prepare for voluntary assisted dying.
Cancer Council Victoria recognises there are differing personal and professional views on voluntary assisted dying and we respect the right of people and organisations to hold such views.
Danielle Spence, Head of Cancer Strategy and Support at Cancer Council Victoria, said the organisation understands the topic can bring up difficult issues for many people in the community, including those who are affected by cancer.
“Some people may find issues relating to end of life care upsetting or confusing. We encourage anyone struggling with or wanting to find out more about end of life issues or voluntary assisted dying to seek support and information.”
Ms Spence said that voluntary assisted dying is also not an alternative to palliative care.
“Palliative care and end of life services are available in Victoria and the coordinated medical and support services of palliative care can help maintain comfort and quality of life throughout advanced cancer.
"We understand that people's access to quality palliative care can differ around the state and that more needs to be done to ensure they can receive timely access to it.
"If you feel strongly about this we're urging people to fill out our survey that includes questions around palliative care to inform the government's next Victorian Cancer Plan."
For more information about the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, visit Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website, or ask a health practitioner (such as a general practitioner, specialist doctor or nurse) for information.
For cancer information and support, please contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 to speak to an experienced cancer nurse, or visit the ‘Get support’ page of our website.
If you urgently need to talk to somebody because you are thinking about ending your life, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for free, confidential telephone counselling.
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