The Parliament of New South Wales passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 (the Act) on 19 May 2022. This Act will allow eligible people the choice to access voluntary assisted dying from 28 November 2023. From now until November 2023, the NSW Ministry of Health (NSW Health) will plan for and implement voluntary assisted dying in NSW. The legislation has many safeguards to ensure voluntary assisted dying is safe, accessible and appropriate. NSW Health will provide ongoing information to health practitioners throughout 2022 and 2023.

Last updated: 24 January 2023

​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.

'Voluntary' means the choice must be the person's own. Only the person who wants voluntary assisted dying can ask for it. It is against the law to pressure someone to ask for voluntary assisted dying. The NSW legislation has safeguards in place to make sure the person is protected.

When can voluntary assisted dying be accessed?

The law will come into effect on 28 November 2023. This allows for an 18-month implementation period. People cannot access voluntary assisted dying in NSW before 28 November 2023.

Who is eligible to access voluntary assisted dying in NSW?

The law states that people will only 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 three 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:
    1. Will, on the balance of probabilities, cause their death within six months (or within 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases like motor neurone disease), and
    2. 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.

Which health practitioners can participate in voluntary assisted dying?

Medical practitioners that meet certain eligibility requirements defined in the Act can undertake the roles of:

  • voluntary assisted dying coordinating practitioner
  • consulting practitioner, or
  • administering practitioner.

Nurse practitioners that meet certain eligibility requirements defined in the Act can undertake the role of administering practitioner.

Do I have to participate in voluntary assisted dying?

No. You may choose not to participate in voluntary assisted dying.

What do I need to do?

You may wish to consider your own position on voluntary assisted dying and how you may respond if a patient asks you about it once it becomes a legal option.

During the implementation period, NSW Health will develop supporting information and training for health practitioners. This will include further advice on the rights and obligations of health practitioners under the Act.

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

An implementation project is underway to ensure the voluntary assisted dying process is safe, appropriate and follows the law in NSW.

NSW Health has established an Implementation Committee, supported by an implementation team, to oversee and guide preparations for voluntary assisted dying. This will include working with many health representatives and stakeholders to develop the more detailed aspects of implementing 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.

How will I be kept up to date on progress?

As implementation progresses, more information and resources will be communicated to health practitioners and made available on the NSW Health website.

All people should receive the high-quality care they need, including palliative care

The law sets guiding principles that a person approaching end of life should be provided with the high-quality care and treatment they need, including palliative care. All people in NSW should have equitable access to health services, including those in regional, rural and remote areas.

More information on palliative care services and resources in NSW is available on the NSW Health website.

Further information