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The ALA says telehealth should be available for at least one consultation required to access voluntary assisted dying in the Northern Territory (Bigstock)

The peak body for lawyers has called for the scrapping of federal laws prohibiting use of telehealth consultations to facilitate access to euthanasia, urging the Northern Territory to push for the laws to be changed as it formulates its own scheme. Source: The Australian. 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says laws prohibiting the use of a carriage service to assist someone to commit suicide will place health workers at risk of prosecution and limit patients’ access to the scheme.

A Federal Court ruling last November found voluntary assisted dying (VAD) was considered suicide under the criminal code, meaning doctors could be prosecuted for providing advice over telehealth or the phone – clarifying a previously grey area in medical law.

In its submission to the NT Government on how its euthanasia framework should be designed, the ALA advised that the laws should be changed so that telehealth could be used for at least one consultation required to access the scheme.

The NT has canvassed public opinion on whether access to VAD should be granted solely on the basis of mental health or to dementia patients, after the Commonwealth Government overturned a 27-year ban on territories legalising assisted suicide.

Darwin Bishop Charles Gauci last month said the revelations about the NT Government’s survey of Territorians were concerning, and “undermines initiatives” to combat suicide rates.

WA independent MP Kate Chaney introduced a private member’s bill to federal Parliament last month that would stipulate that VAD was not legally suicide, to enable patients to access consultations remotely and protect doctors from criminal charges.


Lawyers push to legalise voluntary assisted dying via telehealth (By Rhiannon Down, The Australian)

NT healthcare must improve ahead of voluntary assisted dying laws, advocates say (By Rhiannon Down, The Australian)

National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services: • Lifeline 13 11 14 • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 • Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636