About the Bill
In December 2016, the Victorian Government announced its intention to commence consultations for a voluntary assisted dying framework in Victoria. An expert Ministerial Advisory Panel (the Panel) has been established to facilitate this process with a view to developing a safe and considered framework for the proposed legislation. At the request of the Victorian Government, the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) has agreed to be involved in the consultation process.
The LIV acknowledges the disparate views among our membership on voluntary assisted dying and has considered this matter very carefully. The LIV has an essential role in the development of legal policy and legislation in Victoria and has an obligation to use its expertise to ensure the proposed legislation is consistent with the rule of law.
The LIV will not participate in moral and social arguments for and against voluntary assisted dying, but will instead focus on ensuring the proposed legislative framework is clear and consistent.
The LIV has convened a Voluntary Assisted Dying Taskforce (the Taskforce) which is made up of expert practitioners who work across a range of areas in the disability, health and aged care sector. The Taskforce also includes representatives from the Young Lawyers Law Reform Committee and LIV Council. The Taskforce is mandated to consider the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill Discussion Paper (Discussion Paper) within the confines of the LIV Voluntary Assisted Dying Position Statement, which has been approved by LIV Council.
A copy of the LIV Position Statement on Voluntary Assisted Dying can be found here.
This timeline offers a background to the development of the voluntary assisted dying framework, details the LIV's involvement in the consultation process to date, and outlines processes moving forward.
7 May 2015 – the Legislative Council passed a motion ordering the Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues (the Committee) inquire into the current framework and practices around end of life choices in Victoria (the Inquiry).
21 September 2015 – the LIV made a submission to the Inquiry, but abstained from any comment on voluntary assisted dying. Instead, the LIV emphasised the need for clear and consistent laws regarding advance care planning and medical treatment decision-making in Victoria.
18 November 2015 – the LIV gave evidence at a public hearing in support of its recommendations to the Inquiry.
9 June 2016 – the Committee tabled its Final Report (the Report), which recommended, among other things, that the Victorian Government introduce legislation to allow adults with decision-making capacity, suffering from a serious and incurable condition at the end of their life, to be provided assistance to die in certain circumstances.
8 December 2016 – the Victorian Government tabled its response to the Report, which outlined, among other things, its support for the proposal to develop a legislative framework for assisted dying in Victoria.
8 December 2016 – the Victorian Government notified the LIV of its intention to develop a framework and requested our involvement in the consultation process to provide expert legal advice on how a compassionate and safe legislative framework for assisted dying could be implemented in Victoria.
25 January 2017 – the Victorian Government released the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill Discussion Paper (the Discussion Paper) seeking feedback on the Committee's recommendations to help create a safe and practical voluntary assisted dying framework.
10 February 2017 – the LIV Council resolved to accept the Victorian Government's invitation to participate in the consultation process. The LIV Council directed the responsible legal policy staff to develop a policy position statement to clearly delineate the scope of the LIV's involvement in the process, expressly noting the LIV would not be engaging in any debate for or against voluntary assisted dying.
1 March 2017 – relevant members of the LIV's Legal Policy Department and select committee members attended a consultation with the Panel and other legal and clinical experts to discuss aspects of the proposed legislative framework, noting any involvement was subject to the development of an approved position.
16 March 2017 – the LIV organised and convened a Voluntary Assisted Dying Taskforce (the Taskforce), comprised of legal policy lawyers and paralegals and members of our Health Law, Elder Law and Young Lawyers Sections of the LIV. Guided by the Discussion Paper, the Taskforce engaged in robust discussion to inform any submission that may be made on the proposed legislation.
16 March 2017 – a Position Paper was developed by the relevant legal policy lawyer and advanced to Council for decision. The Position Paper was approved by Council, reflecting that the LIV's involvement on this issue is limited to providing feedback to ensure laws are workable – clear, consistent, and predictable and in line with the rule of law.
From 16 March 2017 – the relevant legal policy lawyer and other members of the legal policy team will, in close collaboration with the Taskforce, develop a submission to the Victorian Government in response to the Discussion Paper. This submission will be drafted in line with the LIV's Position Statement and will be subject to robust internal approval processes.
10 April 2017 – the closing date for submissions to the Government on the legislative framework outlined by the Discussion Paper.
April 2017 – based on the feedback received during the consultation period, the Panel will issue an interim report to Government.
July 2017 – the Panel will issue a final report to Government.
Late 2017 – the Victorian Government will develop and introduce legislation for a voluntary assisted dying framework in Victoria.
Should you have any questions regarding any stage in this process, please contact VADBill@liv.asn.au.