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Voluntary assisted dying

All six states in Australia have now legalised voluntary assisted dying to allow for terminally-ill people to end their suffering in a humane way. Yet, the residents of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are blocked from accessing the same right as their fellow Australians.

What’s the problem?

In 1997, the Howard government introduced the Euthanasia Laws Act to block the territories from making legislation in regards to voluntary assisted dying. This legislation effectively overturned the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, passed by the Northern Territory parliament in 1996.

For a brief moment, the Northern Territory was the only Australia jurisdiction to allow voluntary assisted dying. Since the federal law came into effect to prevent the territories from legislating in this space, support for terminally ill people to have the right to access voluntary assisted dying has soared across the country.

We believe the citizens of the territories deserve the same right as every other Australian to access voluntary assisted dying.

To give them this right, the federal parliament must introduce legislation to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act of 1997.

Also, at the federal level it remains a crime to use a ‘carriage service’, such as a telephone or the internet, to provide information about suicide.

Despite the fact that VAD is not suicide, the federal government has taken a hard line, refusing to clarify that the ‘carriage service’ law does not apply in cases of doctors supporting their patients wishing to access VAD. This law thus continues to pose a legal risk for doctors and particularly disadvantages people living in rural or remote areas, where VAD-trained doctors are less available for face-to-face consultations.

What we're doing

We’re helping to raise public awareness about the need for citizens of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to have access to voluntary assisted dying laws, and about the need for reform of laws relating to the use of a ‘carriage service’ to talk about assisted dying.

We’re lobbying the major parties and other members of the federal parliament to encourage them to support the reform.

What you can do

You can write to your local federal member of parliament or state/territory senators, or arrange a meeting with them, to voice your support for our position.

You can also consider helping us to make an impact by becoming a member of the Rationalist Society of Australia or making a donation.

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