Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Voluntary assisted dying
Voluntary assisted dying
Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (2001)
Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:
My adjournment debate is for the Minister for Health.
The action that I seek is for the minister to provide a formal response on why the government will not urgently address the permanent residency loophole that exists for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria.
As you would know, I introduced a private members bill to this place just over 12 months ago. It sought to address two issues that have existed since our VAD laws were introduced.
The first was seeking to allow telehealth for all but the first appointment for VAD, to allow those especially in regional and rural Victoria the same access as their metro counterparts. Further, for those who are immobile—most of those accessing VAD—telehealth is a sensible option that we’ve embraced wholeheartedly during COVID.
The second amendment in the bill was to fix an issue with the definition of ‘permanent resident’.
In addition to having late-stage terminal illness, applicants for VAD must provide evidence they are an Australian citizen or permanent resident and must have lived in Victoria for a minimum of 12 months.
But ‘permanent resident’ has been interpreted as only someone with a permanent residency visa. This has meant people who have lived here for over 50 years or who have served in our armed forces might be ineligible.
The VAD review board’s report of operations from 2020 raised the issue of permanent residency and yet nothing has been done to fix the issue.
Under my bill, a permanent resident would be a person who has been ‘ordinarily resident in Australia for at least three consecutive years’, but they wouldn’t have to show a permanent residency visa.
This is sensible and absolutely continues to eliminate the chances of enabling ‘death holidays’ like we’ve seen in Switzerland.
The minister would also be aware that there was a VCAT challenge to have this issue resolved but VCAT decided it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the application. So the issue has remained.
The urgency to change this is paramount.
My office has spoken to a doctor who has a patient in Victoria—with just four months to live due to cancer—who mentioned that he owned a shotgun at home. He said that he would use it should he not be able to access VAD due to this permanent residency restriction.
He has lived in this state for more than five decades.
Was this not what we introduced the new laws to avoid?
Minister, this cannot wait until your five-year review begins, is consulted on, is conducted, is completed, takes time to be debated and legislated, whilst we then wait for the commencement date.
This needs to be fixed now.
Not in another three or so years’ time.
Please fix this issue that my private members bill directly addresses so that people can die with dignity.