Queensland becomes the fourth state to implement VAD laws

Queensland becomes the fourth state to implement VAD laws

As of the 1st January 2023, terminally ill Queenslanders can now access voluntary assisted dying (VAD) if they meet the eligibility criteria and follow the highly-safeguarded process.

The Queensland Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in September 2021 but like the other states that already have operating VAD schemes, they had to undergo an implementation period to ensure the scheme operates safely and effectively.

Who can apply?

The Queensland law is similar to other Australian VAD laws and has strict eligibility criteria.

To use the law, a person must be:

  • Diagnosed with an incurable disease, illness or medical condition that:
    • incurable, advanced and progressive, and will cause death within 12 months
    • is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner the person finds tolerable
  • Capable of making decisions about their medical treatment and communicate those decisions throughout the assessment process
  • Acting freely and without coercion
  • Aged 18+
  • An Australian citizen or permanent resident who has lived in Queensland for at least 12 months

A person must make three separate requests for voluntary assisted dying and have the approval of two doctors.

To find out more about the Queensland VAD law, visit Queensland’s Department of Health website.

Asking for information on voluntary assisted dying 

If you live in Queensland and you are thinking about accessing voluntary assisted dying, you should discuss it with your doctor or healthcare team. This could include nurses, social workers, psychologists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers or practitioners.

Any willing doctor or healthcare worker can support you while you are thinking about voluntary assisted dying and they can give you information about voluntary assisted dying. They can help you think through your options but only a doctor or nurse practitioner can start a conversation about voluntary assisted dying with you. If they start a conversation, they must also discuss your treatment options with you, including palliative care treatment and support options, and the likely outcomes of your options. If you want to talk to another type of healthcare worker about voluntary assisted dying, you will have to start the conversation.

Asking for information doesn’t mean you have started the VAD process. You can have as many conversations as you need with your healthcare team about voluntary assisted dying and it’s important you have the information you need to make an informed decision. However, the process only starts when you have made your decision and make a first request. You can learn more about asking for voluntary assisted dying by visiting the Queensland’s Department of Health website.

Respecting your healthcare team’s beliefs

Voluntary assisted dying is complex and individuals may have different views about voluntary assisted dying. It is important to respect all views—respecting different views is central to voluntary assisted dying in Queensland.

All doctors and healthcare workers can choose to conscientiously object to participating in any stage of the voluntary assisted dying process.

If your healthcare team cannot respond to your questions about voluntary assisted dying, they may give you the details of someone who can, or you can contact the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Support Service (QVAD-Support). QVAD-Support will be able to answer some of your questions and connect you to a doctor who will be able to help you access voluntary assisted dying. Their skilled, knowledgeable team are ready to be contacted.

QVAD-SUPPORT SERVICE

Ph. 1800 431 371

Email: qvadsupport@health.qld.gov.au