A taskforce to help prepare the ACT’s health system for voluntary euthanasia will be established by the Barr Government. Source: Canberra Times.
The taskforce will examine referral pathways across the system, the establishment of a pharmacy service, workforce training and communications with the community.
It will also include the establishment of an independent review board to monitor how the bill is being enacted.
The taskforce would work closely with representatives from stakeholder groups, agencies and the broader community, a Government statement said.
The Government is hopeful voluntary euthanasia laws will pass in the first half of the year, meaning it will be accessible to Canberrans by the end of 2025.
Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne, who introduced the bill, said consultation on voluntary assisted dying informed the establishment of the taskforce.
The territory’s proposed voluntary assisted dying laws are being considered by a select committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the bill.
Under the ACT’s proposed legislation, a person will be able to access euthanasia if they have an illness that is advanced, progressive, and expected to cause death. A person must be “suffering intolerably” and have decision-making capacity.
The ACT does not have a time frame for an expected death, unlike other states, but they must be in the “last stages of life”.
The inquiry has heard from a number of health bodies. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said nurses potentially face unfair criminal charges for failing to meet assisted dying timelines.
Doctors have also expressed concern at the use of the term “last stages of life” saying it could be problematic as health professionals may have different views about what this term means.
The taskforce is being funded through the territory Government’s mid-year budget review and will cost $2.4 million over two years.
Health system readies for ACT assisted dying changes (By Lucy Bladen, Canberra Times)