On 19 May 2022, after a mammoth overnight debate, the NSW Parliament passed new voluntary assisted dying laws that will allow adults suffering from a terminal illness to choose the timing of their own death. NSW is the last state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
The bill was introduced to Parliament late last year by Independent Sydney MP, Alex Greenwich, and had 28 co-sponsors from across all parties – the highest number of any bill in Australian parliamentary history. It is also the first bill in the history of the NSW Parliament to pass without the support of the premier or opposition leader.
The laws are set to come into effect in the next 18 months.
What does this mean for me?
These new laws are only relevant to adults who are terminally ill. The bill outlines very specific provisions for those seeking to end their own life, and limits access to voluntary assisted dying to people with incurable illnesses who will die within 6 months, or 12 months for those suffering from a neurodegenerative condition who are experiencing unbearable suffering.
The person must be found to have capacity to make the decision to go ahead voluntarily without duress, and the application will be assessed by two medical practitioners before being approved.
The introduction of these Voluntary Assisted Dying laws has allowed many terminally ill individuals to breathe a sigh of relief. It will empower them knowing that they can take control over their end of life, that they are now able to die peacefully and on their own terms, rather than being put through even more pain and suffering right at the end of their lives.
For more information, see the NSW Parliament website.