Almost 500 Victorians have used euthanasia laws

An example of the locked box that contains euthanasia medications delivered to terminally ill patients in Victoria (ABC News)

Almost 500 people have used Victoria’s euthanasia laws since they were introduced in 2019, but a new report reveals the scheme is being hampered by a range of challenges. Source: The Age.

The latest Victorian Government figures show 488 people in the state used the system to end their lives between June 19, 2019, and June 30 this year.

One key issue identified by a new report into the system from the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board is a federal law prohibiting doctors from discussing or conducting euthanasia assessments by phone or telehealth.

Doctors would breach the Commonwealth Criminal Code if they consulted a patient remotely about their wish to die with assistance and would face a maximum fine of $222,000.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said Victoria had lobbied the Morrison Government to reform the law since 2020 .

However, a spokesman for federal Attorney-General Michaelia Cash said on Friday there were no plans to amend the suicide-related material offences in the Criminal Code. The spokesman said it was important for state governments to resolve issues with implementing euthanasia laws “in a manner that is consistent with Commonwealth law”.

According to the review board, there were not enough euthanasia-accredited neurologists to help patients wanting to use the laws. There were also delays in application processes, sometimes due to common errors, ranging from the incorrect spelling of a patient’s name, the incorrect medicine or dose being recorded, or inadequate evidence about a person’s eligibility.


Victoria’s assisted dying laws hampered by lack of doctors, delays and clash with federal legislation (By Farrah Tomazin and Melissa Cunningham, The Age)

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