Voluntary Assisted Dying

Voluntary Assisted Dying

What it is:

Voluntary Assisted Dying or VAD refers to the law allowing people with an advanced life-limiting illness to control when they die by taking a medicine prescribed by their doctor.

This is different from palliative care. Palliative care does not hasten death. It aims to improve quality of life for a person with a life-limiting illness. This can include control of pain and managing distress.

‘Voluntary’ indicates that VAD is a voluntary choice of the person. This means that the person must be able to decide to access VAD for themselves and this is what they want.

‘Terminally ill’ means that the person is expected to die soon.

VAD laws have passed in all states of Australia (but some laws have not yet started).

Why do we have VAD?

Australian VAD laws provide adults with an advanced life-limiting illness the right to legally choose when they will die. Where available, this is an individual’s choice when they know that they are likely to die soon.

The Australian public’s support for VAD has remained high with national surveys showing that since the early 1990’s at least seven out of ten people asked were in favour. [1]

How is VAD provided?

Generally there are two ways that VAD may be provided:

  • 'Self-administration', where the person takes the VAD medication themselves (also called physician-assisted suicide or dying)
  • 'Practitioner administration', where the person is administered the medication by a doctor or in some states, a nurse (this may be called voluntary euthanasia).

Is VAD available in my state?

VAD is legally available in the following Australian states:

Where can I learn more about VAD in my state?

Some states with VAD legislation provide information for consumers. If your state does not appear below, we will add it when it becomes available. It is important to understand that to be eligible for VAD in any state a person must be able to make their own decisions.

Other resources:

Palliative Care Australia - Voluntary Assisted Dying in Australia: guiding principles for those providing care to people living with a life-limiting illness (pdf 82kb).

For more on legislation and requirements surrounding VAD in Australia visit End of Life Law in Australia.

Page updated 29 January 2024


  • References

  1. Kresin T, Hawgood J, De Leo D, Varghese F. Attitudes and Arguments in the Voluntary Assisted Dying Debate in Australia: What Are They and How Have They Evolved Over Time? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Nov 24;18(23):12327. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182312327.