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Nurses will be able to initiate conversations about euthanasia with a patient, as well as take part conducting eligibility assessments and administering euthanasia substances (Bigstock)

Nurses, social workers and counsellors will be able to initiate discussions about euthanasia with terminally ill people in the ACT, under what will be the most liberal framework in the country if enshrined into law. Source: The Australian.

The legislation, which the Labor-Greens Government introduced to the ACT Parliament yesterday, also elevates the position of nurses to play a role in conducting assessments of a patient’s eligibility and administering the life-ending medication.

In another unprecedented move, the bill departs from the rules in other jurisdictions by allowing patients to access assisted suicide without having a predicted time of death of 12 months or less.

Canberrans will need to be at least 18 and have been diagnosed with a condition that is “advanced, progressive and expected to cause death”, be enduring intolerable suffering and to have lived in the ACT for a year or be able to demonstrate a “substantial connection” to the territory to access the scheme.

The ACT was given the green light to legalise euthanasia last year when federal Parliament overturned laws banning territory governments from implementing euthanasia, which had been in place for more than two decades.

Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese chancellor Patrick McArdle questioned the provision of conscientious objection in the territory’s bill, the Canberra Times reports.

The bill allows for a conscientious objection from health professionals but if a health professional is against euthanasia they must let a patient know as soon as possible so they are able to seek advice elsewhere.

“The Government has indicated there will be individual conscientious objection and some level of institutional conscientious objection. However, there does seem to be an implication that will require some means of referral to someone else, which calls into question the very notion of conscientious objection,” Dr McArdle said.

“At no point in war, if I object to killing another person, am I required to identify someone else who will do the killing on my behalf? And so that seems to me to be absurd.”


ACT euthanasia laws to give nurses green light to discuss assisted suicide with patients (By Rhiannon Down and Rosie Lewis, The Australian)

ACT voluntary assisted dying bill commended by Go Gentle but slammed as ‘worst bill’ by opponents  (By Lucy Bladen, Canberra Times)