On 23 August 2017, the Western Australian Parliament established a Joint Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council to inquire and report on the need for laws in Western Australia to allow citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end of life choices.
Chair of the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices, Amber‐Jade Sanderson, said the inquiry is an important opportunity for all Western Australians to have their views heard on an issue that affects everyone.
“There is demand within our community for this issue to be examined. We want to give everyone the chance to engage in a process that will explore a range of views and consider proposals for the future”, Ms Sanderson said.
“Cross‐party select committees can achieve great outcomes by working cooperatively and I genuinely hope for that in this process. Although this issue is challenging and contentious, there are principles that we all share: respect for the rights and freedoms that our society provides us and the ability for us to hold fundamentally different views, and compassion for those who are nearing the end of their lives, particularly those suffering under a medical condition that will shorten their lives.”
The Committee will –
(a) assess the practices currently being utilised within the medical community to assist a person to exercise their preferences for the way they want to manage their end of life when experiencing chronic and/or terminal illnesses, including the role of palliative care;
(b) review the current framework of legislation, proposed legislation and other relevant reports and materials in other Australian States and Territories and overseas jurisdictions;
(c) consider what type of legislative change may be required, including an examination of any federal laws that may impact such legislation; and
(d) examine the role of Advanced Health Directives, Enduring Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Guardianship laws and the implications for individuals covered by these instruments in any proposed legislation.
The Committee initially invited written submissions and are currently holding their public hearings.
The Committee is expected to deliver its findings by August 23, paving the way for a free parliamentary vote on voluntary assisted dying which could happen before the end of 2018.
If a voluntary assisted dying law passed in the Western Australia Parliament they would become the second Australian state to do so.
Victoria passed their assisted dying legislation late last year and the Victorian scheme is expected to start operating by mid-2019, open to terminally ill, competent adults who have lived in the state for at least 12 months.