Landmark voluntary assisted dying laws start today in SA

Old man

Voluntary assisted dying laws came into force in South Australia today

South Australians with a terminal illness will have the right to make the choice to die with dignity under the landmark laws after 16 previous attempts spanning 27 years, voluntary assisted dying is now legal in South Australia.

The introduction of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 gives eligible South Australians with a terminal illness a choice at the end of life – in the most safe, accessible, and compassionate way.

VAD is available for people who meet strict criteria, including having an incurable, advanced and progressive disease, illness, or medical condition expected to cause death within six months (or 12 months for a neurodegenerative condition), and that is causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a tolerable manner.

More than 70 doctors have now registered and are undertaking mandatory training required to conduct eligibility assessments for VAD – including 30 who have completed the training and are ready to go from today.

Alongside doctors, Care Navigators from the South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service will be available to assist people with accessing VAD. These are nursing and allied health professionals with experience in complex and end of life care who will manage queries, encourage connections between services, and support referrals to participating medical practitioners.

Care Navigators have been recognised by clinicians in Victoria and Western Australia as a key part of voluntary assisted dying laws.

In addition, a VAD Liaison Nurse has been appointed in each adult metropolitan Local Health Network, alongside a VAD Liaison Nurse for regional South Australia.

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