The information on this page is a summary of the First request patient information guide - Voluntary assisted dying​. Please read this page and the guide together.

You need to meet all the eligibility criteria to access voluntary assisted dying in NSW.

What is a first request?

To start the voluntary assisted dying process, you need to make a formal request to a doctor who is eligible to help you. This is called a 'first request.'

The doctor could be your general practitioner (GP) or a specialist, for example. You need to make this request during a medical appointment. This may be a face-to-face appointment or in a videoconference appointment where the doctor can see and hear you.

  • Your request must be clear and not ambiguous. This means the doctor must be able to understand that you are asking for voluntary assisted dying. To make it clear you could say “voluntary assisted dying". You can also use a communication tool or gestures if you need help to communicate your request. The doctor may need to check with you to make sure they understand what you are asking.
  • If you are making general enquiries or asking for information, this is not a first request.
  • Only you can make a first request. No one else can make a first request on your behalf.

Before I make a first request

Your doctor or healthcare team may tell you that you are unlikely to be eligible for voluntary assisted dying in NSW.

This could be because you:

  • do not have a life-limiting disease, illness or medical condition that will result in your death in 6 or 12 months for a neurological condition
  • are under the age of 18
  • do not have decision-making capacity
  • do not appear to be acting voluntarily or without pressure
  • do not meet the residency requirements.

If this happens, your doctor or healthcare team will likely ask you more questions.​

After I make a first request

Two doctors need to review your request separately and and make an assessment during an appointment with you. Both doctors need to agree that you are eligible.

After this, you and your coordinating practitioner continue to follow the NSW voluntary assisted dying process.  

You will need to submit a written declaration and make a final request. You also need to decide with your coordinating practitioner if you will:

  • take the medication yourself (self-administration), or
  • have a doctor or nurse practitioner give you the medication (practitioner administration).

The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board

The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board (the Board) will review your application and make sure you have completed all parts of the process. They will make a decision on your request.

The Board is a group of independent people. One of their roles is to review all applications for voluntary assisted dying. They check that all the documents have been received and all the legal requirements have been met. This includes making sure you meet all the eligibility requirements​.

The Board will either approve your application or refuse your application.  

Your request may also be refused at certain points in the process, for example if you:

  • lose decision-making capacity
  • don’t appear to be acting voluntarily (i.e. you are being pressured by another person).

What happens if my request is approved?

After your request is approved by the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board, you and your doctor will complete the remaining steps in voluntary assisted dying process.  

This includes being prescribed the medication. Your doctor will talk to you in detail about the medication and answer any questions you have.

What happens if my request is refused?

If you are not eligible, your doctor or healthcare team will talk to you about your options. It it important to talk about what this means for you and how this news makes you feel. They can help you get the care, symptom management, information, counselling or support that you need.

​ Your doctor will also explain whether you may become eligible in the future or not.

Residency exemptions

If you are not eligible because you have not been ordinarily resident in NSW for at least 12 months, you may still be eligible to access voluntary assisted dying in NSW.

You can apply for a residency exemption from the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Board.

Current as at: Tuesday 28 November 2023