The Parliament of New South Wales passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 (the Act) on 19 May 2022. The Act will allow eligible people the choice to access voluntary assisted dying in NSW from 28 November 2023.

NSW Health is working to prepare for voluntary assisted dying to become available in NSW within 18 months. This includes establishing an Implementation Committee to oversee the implementation of the Act and to provide expert guidance.

What is voluntary assisted dying?

Voluntary assisted dying means an eligible person can ask for medical help to end their life. The person must be in the late stages of an advanced disease, illness or medical condition. They must also be experiencing pain and suffering they find unbearable.

If a person meets all the criteria and the steps set out in the law are followed, they can take or be given a voluntary assisted dying substance to bring about their death at a time they choose. The substance must be prescribed by an eligible doctor. It is illegal to pressure someone to ask for voluntary assisted dying.

Certain criteria need to be met to access voluntary assisted dying

The Act states that people in NSW will only be able to receive access to voluntary assisted dying if they meet all of the following criteria.

1. They must be an adult (18 years and older), who is an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia or have been resident in Australia for at least 3 continuous years.

2. They must have been living in NSW for at least 12 months.

3. They must have at least one disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and:

  • will, on the balance of probabilities, cause their death within six months (or within 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases like motor neurone disease), and
  • is causing the person suffering that cannot be relieved in a way the person considers tolerable.

4. They must have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying and be acting voluntarily.

5.  They must have the ability to make and communicate requests and decisions about voluntary assisted dying throughout the formal request process.

What will happen during the implementation period?

The law requires specific governance arrangements and processes to be put in place. This is important to ensure voluntary assisted dying is safe, appropriate and follows the law.

The 18-month implementation period allows NSW Health to work with the community and a broad range of health, aged care and other stakeholders to implement the framework set out in the legislation.

What is NSW Health doing to prepare for voluntary assisted dying?

An implementation project is underway to ensure that voluntary assisted dying is implemented as legislated in NSW.

NSW Health is establishing an Implementation Committee, supported by an implementation team. The Implementation Committee and team will:

  • oversee and guide the establishment of the specific governance arrangements and processes as required by the law
  • work with numerous health representatives and stakeholders
  • develop detailed plans in order to implement voluntary assisted dying in NSW.

In addition, the following will also be established: 

  • A Voluntary Assisted Dying Board and secretariat.
  • A state-wide framework for safe and appropriate access to voluntary assisted dying services across public health and private facilities, and community general practitioners.
  • State-wide pharmaceutical protocols and procedures to ensure safe and appropriate administration of the approved substances.
  • A care navigator service to provide advice, information and support to the community and clinicians.
  • Education and training programs for clinicians choosing to support access to voluntary assisted dying.

This webpage will be updated regularly and more information will become available as we get closer to the time when voluntary assisted dying will become available to eligible people.

Further information

  • The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 is available on the NSW Legislation website
  • Information on the Bill and the debate is available on the NSW Parliament website
  • Victoria and Western Australia have implemented voluntary assisted dying, and South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland are in the implementation phase. Each state has its own legislative framework that is different to NSW law.
  • Information for community including access to other support services including palliative care and mental health.
  • Information for health providers
Current as at: Monday 25 July 2022