South Australia becomes the fifth state to implement VAD laws

On Tuesday 31 January 2023, South Australia became the fifth state to implement their Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) scheme.

The SA law was passed in 2021 following 16 earlier attempts at law reform over a period of 26 years.

Now terminally ill South Australians who meet the strict eligibility criteria can access a quick and peaceful death, if that is their choice, at the end of their illness.

The SA Health Minister, Chris Picton said that “eligible South Australians facing terminal illnesses and insufferable pain are entitled to choice and dignity at the end of life.”

The law which is very similar to the law that has been operating effectively in Victoria since mid 2019 includes 70 safeguards.

The individual wishing to access VAD must have a terminal diagnosis with a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease. They must be an SA resident for at least 12 months and they must maintain decision-making capacity throughout the entire process. The assessment has to be carried out by two independent medical practitioners and the patient is required to make three separate requests, including one in writing.

As in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland, a state-wide VAD Care Navigator Service has been set up to support people through the process.

Once all the requirements have been met, a final review is carried out before a permit can be granted that will allow the patient to obtain medication for self-administration or, in certain circumstances, administration by a medical practitioner.

According to media reports this week, 70 doctors in South Australia have registered to be involved in the scheme so far.

For more information about the VAD law in South Australia see InDaily’s Explainer: How SA's voluntary assisted dying system will work.’

New South Wales will be the next state to implement their VAD law but that is still 10 months away with the implementation date being the 28 November 2023.