Community consultation on VAD Amendments

Community consultation on VAD Amendments Main Image

I am incredibly pleased to announce that I received significant feedback during this consultation period, reflecting a high level of community and stakeholder engagement. The consultation process was incredibly positive, with clear support to address the issue of access to VAD following the loss of capacity. 

Based on the feedback received, I have decided not to move forward with the proposed amendments at this stage. Concerns were raised about the short timeframe for consultation and other issues that still need to be worked through.

However, based on the community feedback- on 06/06/2024, I passed a motion calling on the ACT Government to address the issue of loss of capacity and explore an appropriate model for the ACT. The government is required to report back to the ACT Legislative Assembly by the end of May 2025.

There is a gap in all Australian VAD legislation to date when an individual has gone through all the requests and approval stages to access VAD, and then they lose capacity. It is clear that the ACT is ready to explore how to address this issue.

I want to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation process. Your stories and experiences have had a profound impact on me, and I hope that there is comfort knowing that this issue is on the table, is being taken seriously, and that there will be a pathway through this.

Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to work towards a comprehensive and compassionate approach to VAD legislation in the ACT. Your continued engagement and feedback are invaluable as we move forward.

Read on to find out more about the background and idea behind the motion!

                The idea behind Community Consultations on VAD Bill 2023

May 2024 marks another monumental milestone for the ACT’s voluntary assisted dying journey: the beginning of the in-principle debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2023. I am really proud of the bill which is before the assembly for consideration. 

But the journey doesn’t stop here. Today, I am announcing the start of a public consultation in taking the bill a step further for the members of the community that are suffering intolerably. As a member of the VAD Bill Inquiry committee, I was deeply moved by the stories of families who had to witness the suffering of their loved ones.

That is why I am proposing amendments to the community seeking to address a critical gap in existing VAD legislation across Australia, where a person loses capacity following the final request and is no longer eligible to access VAD.

I am proposing a model of amendments that provides an intersecting point between the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2023 and the Powers of Attorney Act 2006.

Key Amendments:

  1. Empowering VAD Attorneys:
    • After the final assessment report, if an individual loses capacity, their VAD attorney (who holds enduring power of attorney) can authorize the individual’s access to VAD.
    • The VAD attorney's awareness and consent to their role are essential prerequisites. A confirming doctor must ascertain the individual's lack of decision-making capacity for the VAD attorney's authority to be activated.
  2. ACAT Review Mechanism: 
    • An ACAT review mechanism is established to provide advice and opinion on the authority of the VAD attorney in cases where capacity is lost.
  3. Consultation and Decision-Making:
    • Administrative decisions regarding VAD must be made in writing, with consultation and advice from the individual's coordinating practitioner.
    • The administering practitioner must be satisfied with the authority of the VAD attorney and the individual's lack of capacity before proceeding.
  4.  Flexibility and Safeguards:
    • The VAD attorney retains the discretion to decline to proceed at any point, without compulsion.
    • Administering practitioners are empowered to question the authority of the VAD attorney or refer them to another health practitioner if any concerns arise.

These amendments represent a bold step forward and a solution to a problem that no other jurisdiction in Australia has yet tackled. I call on the ACT community to join in support, urging us to be brave and lead the nation in discussing the next steps toward supporting people suffering at the end of their lives to make the choice to die with dignity and compassion.

The consultation draft has been released today. I invite you to share your thoughts, support, and feedback by signing the "Let Me Know Your Thoughts" form.

Additionally, you can email your feedback directly to me at [email protected]. Furthermore, I encourage you to email other Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly to express your support and provide feedback on the proposed amendments.

Please note that the consultation period will end in two weeks on May 29th.Thank you for your participation and contribution.