Voluntary assisted dying

On 15 July 2019, Kerry Robertson became the first person to be granted a permit under Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, and the first to use it.

Listen below as her daughters speak about her experience. (Source: ABC Radio)

19 June 2019. Today, the long-fought-for right for people suffering intolerably towards the end of their lives to die when and with whom they choose finally becomes operative.

Eligible people can finally be prescribed medication that will gently put them to sleep and then end their life within an hour.

In this interview, RSA Patron Dr Rodney Syme describes the process with 2GB radio host Rev Bill Crews.

The Rationalist Society of Australia supports voluntary assisted dying. We believe Australians should be supported in their choice to take control of their own deaths in a way that respects them as autonomous beings. In 2017, voluntary assisted dying was legalised in Victoria, a historic moment not only for the state but the whole of Australia. The RSA is committed to seeing reforms across Australia, and will be active in upcoming state-specific campaigns to see assisted dying legalised for all Australians.


In November 2017, Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying. This is a historic win for individuals, organisations and politicians who have fought for decades for the choice to access assisted dying in Victoria. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 culminated from an incredibly comprehensive process, including the Inquiry into End of Life Choices in 2015, followed by a Ministerial Advisory Panel which delivered its final report in June 2017. It was aided in its success by the support it had from the Andrews Government.

The RSA conducted a directed campaign in support of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in Victoria, involving mobilising members, direct lobbying and contributing to the public conversation regarding the importance of such reforms. Alongside other key organisations, such as Dying With Dignity Victoria, Andrew Denton's Go Gentle and the office of the Health Minister, the RSA engaged our members state-wide to write, call and visit their MPs in support of the Bill. In the weeks and days before the legislation came before Parliament, these efforts intensified.

We also developed relationships with key MPs to assist them with concerns they had about the reforms, and linking them to constituents whose personal stories proved incredibly powerful.

The RSA also helped shift the public conversation surrounding voluntary assisted dying, having an article published in The Age on the eve of the debate in the Legislative Assembly, and our Executive Officer appearing on ABC's Triple J to discuss the importance of the bill to everyone, including younger Australians.


More information (Victoria)

Dying With Dignity Victoria - Dying with Dignity Victoria is a law reform and education organisation pursuing public policies and laws in the state of Victoria which enhance self-determination and dignity at the end of life. @dwdvic

  • DWDVic produced a weekly podcast in the lead up to VAD legislation being introduced into Victorian Parliament. Listen here: DWDVic Podcast

Go Gentle Australia - Go Gentle Australia has been established to help relieve the distress, helplessness and suffering experienced by Australians with untreatable or terminal illnesses, their families and carers. @gogentle_aus

Stop Victorians Suffering - Stop Victorians Suffering is a campaign of Go Gentle Australia focused solely on the Victorian legislation that would legalise voluntary assisted dying. @gogentle_aus

Victorian Parliament Inquiry into End of Life Choices - In June 2016, the Committee on Legal and Social Issues tabled its report on End of Life Choices, which included the recommendation that through legislation, the Victorian Government should introduce a legal framework providing for assisted dying (Recommendation 49).

  • The RSA made a submission to the Inquiry into End of Life Choices. Read it here.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill - Final report of the Ministerial Advisory Panel - The Ministerial Advisory Panel are tasked with providing advice to government about how a compassionate and safe legislative framework for voluntary assisted dying could be implemented. They took the assisted dying framework as outlined by the Legal and Social Issues Committee as the starting point, and released their final report on 21 July 2017. It included 68 recommendations, all of which constituted different safeguards for the reform.

  • Appendix 3 considers how the proposed legislation compares to other jurisdictions around the world where VAD is already legal. It shows that if passed, Victoria’s legislation would be the most conservative and restrictive in the world. Read it here.

Seven fallacies in Victorian bishops' arguments against assisted dying (The Guardian, 3 August 2017) - Neil Francis responds to an open letter by religious leaders, a good example of responding to misinformation.

More information (Australia-wide)

Go Gentle Australia - Go Gentle Australia has been established to help relieve the distress, helplessness and suffering experienced by Australians with untreatable or terminal illnesses, their families and carers. @gogentle_aus

Dying With Dignity NSWDying With Dignity NSW 

Dying With Dignity QLDDying With Dignity QLD

Dying With Dignity WA - Dying With Dignity WA

SAVESSouth Australia Voluntary Euthanasia Society

NTVES - Northern Territory Voluntary Euthanaisa Society

Dying With Dignity TasmaniaDying With Dignity Tasmania

Dying With Dignity ACTDying With Dignity ACT

All the more reason.

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