Voluntary Assisted Dying

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Voluntary Assisted Dying or VAD refers to “the legal administration of a lethal drug to a terminally ill person at the request of that person”. [1] 

In contrast, palliative care does not hasten death. Palliative care has a focus on alleviating suffering and improving quality of life for a person with a life-limiting illness.

In other countries and at other times in Australia a variety of terms have been used but VAD is the term adopted in current Australian legislation. [2] The Australian public’s support for VAD has remained high with numerous national surveys showing that since the early 1990’s at least 70% of people polled were in favour. For more on legislation and requirements surrounding VAD in Australia visit End of Life Law in Australia.

VAD is legally available in the following Australian states:

Health Professional role in VAD

As a health professional you can choose whether you are involved in providing VAD. Each state provides information on health professional and organisation obligations in relation to VAD. For those wanting to assist make sure to access information on registration and training relevant to your state and practice setting.

However, even if you do not want to participate, if asked for information about VAD you need to prepare yourself to respond appropriately. In some states health professionals with a conscientious objection to VAD may be under no obligation to provide information to patients, in others you must provide this and/or may be required to direct the person to someone who can help.



South Australia



Western Australia

Consumers and VAD

Some states with VAD legislation provide information for consumers. It is important that patients and their families understand that to be eligible for VAD in any state the person must be able to make decisions.

You can use the links above to connect patients and their families with relevant information. palliAGED’s For the Community centre also has information on Voluntary Assisted Dying written for consumers.

Communication in VAD

For many health professionals communicating with patients and families about end of life is challenging. Discussions with health professionals are important and can help patients and their families to access reliable sources of information about VAD.

Victoria Health has videos on communication in relation to VAD (these are intended as part of medical practitioner training).

Vital Talks has an example of responding to requests to hasten death.


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

Page updated 30 November 2023

  • References

  1. Kirchhoffer DG, Lui CW. Public reasoning about voluntary assisted dying: An analysis of submissions to the Queensland Parliament, Australia. Bioethics. 2021 Jan;35(1):105-116. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12777. Epub 2020 Aug 19.
  2. 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.