26 September 2023

Incurably ill people finding the way out

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The Department of Health has reported that Victorians suffering an incurable illness are taking access to the voluntary assisted dying option, as the inaugural Chair of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board steps down after two years of historic laws.

Minister for Health, Martin Foley thanked the outgoing Chair of the independent Board, Betty King for her incredible contribution establishing the safe operation of the law.

Mr Foley said Justice King, after retiring as Justice of the Supreme Court in 2015, returned to Public Service when she was appointed the inaugural Chair of the Board in 2018.

He said that with the program now established, Justice King announced her decision to step away with Deputy Chair of the Board, Charlie Corke acting until a new Chair can be appointed.

The Minister said the Board’s Report of Operations (January to June 2021) detailed the first two years of voluntary assisted dying, revealing that 331 terminally ill Victorians had chosen an assisted death since the law came into effect on 19 June 2019.

“From 1 January to 30 June 2021, 255 people were assessed for eligibility to access voluntary assisted dying and 192 permits were issued,” Mr Foley said.

“A total of 101 permit holders died from taking the prescribed medication.”

He said that across Victoria, access was improving with more than 500 medical professionals registered for an online training program – up 12.3 per cent in six months – and there was also a 17.8 per cent increase in the number of practitioners actively supporting at least one case.

The Minister said this was the last of the Board’s six-monthly reports as legislation now entered its third year and future reports would be annual.

The Board’s 24-page Report of Operations (January to June 2021) can be accessed at this PS News link.

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