WA govt to bring on assisted dying bill

Belinda Teh is embraced by Adam Gilchrist at Kings Park before walking on to the WA Parliament with Euthanasia advocates in Perth. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
Belinda Teh is embraced by Adam Gilchrist at Kings Park before walking on to the WA Parliament with Euthanasia advocates in Perth. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

TERMINALLY ill people who are likely to have less than six months to live will be allowed to seek voluntary assisted dying under legislation proposed by the West Australian government.

Under the plan, adults who have been a resident of WA for at least one year will be eligible, provided they meet the criteria.

They must have an illness or medical condition that is advanced and will “on the balance of probabilities” cause their death within six months, or 12 months if it is a neurodegenerative condition.

The condition must also be causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a tolerable manner.

Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

The person must have decision-making capacities and make three requests, including one in writing witnessed by two independent people.

Two doctors must provide independent medical assessments, as well as a final review by the coordinating doctor.

Every step of the process will be reported to a five-member voluntary assisted dying board, which will have a monitoring role to ensure the law is followed.

It comes after a 13-member expert panel led by former WA governor Malcolm McCusker made 31 recommendations which guided the state government’s plan, along with the legislation passed in Victoria.

The panel had recommended a 12-month period for all cases, but Mr McCusker said he was not disappointed with the government’s decision.

The report had also recommended one of the medical practitioners to sign off on the decision could be a nurse, but that has not been included in the bill.

Instead, patients in remote areas will be able to access doctors by teleconference.

Supporters sign a petition after greeting Belinda Teh at Kings Park in Perth. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

Among the differences to Victoria’s laws are that there will be no bureaucratic sign-off required, doctors can raise voluntary assisted dying with patients and people can choose whether they want to self-administer the medication.

In Victoria, a doctor can only administer the drug if a patient is physically unable to do it.

Health Minister Roger Cook said the voluntary assisted dying bill, which had 102 safeguards in place, was cautious and compassionate.

New criminal offences will also apply to prevent patients from being coerced.

The bill is being introduced in parliament on Tuesday and MPs will have a conscience vote.

Premier Mark McGowan said he hoped to have the legislation passed by the end of the year.

Belinda Teh poses for photos after arriving at Kings Park before continuing onto WA Parliament. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

 

Supporters hold signs as Belinda Teh arrives at Kings Park in Perth. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

Today marked the completion of Belinda Teh’s 4500km, 70 day journey walking from Melbourne to Perth to raise awareness of Voluntary Assisted Dying.

Ms Teh finished her walk at Parliament House, where she was met by Premier Mark McGowan and crowds of supporters.

The 27-year-old was inspired to undertake the walk following the death of her Mum from breast cancer after being denied assisted dying in Perth in 2016.

Ms Teh called on WA’s state politicians to vote voluntary assisted dying into WA when it comes before Parliament.