Voluntary Assisted Dying

9 June 2021

South Australia becomes the fourth state to pass laws legalising Voluntary Assisted Dying. 

13 March 2021

RSA Fellow Neil Francis posted his article Anti-VAD suicide gaffes a major embarrassment, to the website www.dyingforchoice.com

“Branca van der Linden of Catholic anti-VAD website “HOPE”, and the Australian Care Alliance — endorsed by a number of well-known, committed Catholic doctors — have just published more egregious misinformation against VAD. This time they’ve collectively piled it on Victoria’s general suicide statistics, recently updated by the Victorian Coroner(link is external). So what did they say, and how did it misrepresent the actual situation? Let’s take a look.”

Read it now.

25 September 2020

In the second half of 2020, an independent Tasmanian MP, Mike Gaffney, had his private member’s bill on Voluntary Assisted Dying debated in the Tasmanian parliament. In the course of public debate, the Catholic Church used despicable tactics in their attempt to counter overwhelming public support for bill. We exposed their dirty little secrets in our letter to all MPs.


8 August 2020

In the lead up to the Queensland state election in October 2020, a new survey reveals that nearly 80% of Queenslanders support the introduction of voluntary assisted dying laws, and that includes those who identify as religious! According to Neil Francis, who maintains a huge database of statistics about assisted dying, this is unsurprising given the increasing number of people abandoning their religious identity: “Amongst Australians who still count themselves as religiously affiliated in 2019, a majority of all religions except minor Christian denominations clearly favour VAD, including three quarters (74%) of Catholics, four in five Anglicans (78%) and Uniting/Methodists (81%), and almost all non-Christian religious (96%) and non-religious (92%).”

1 April 2020

With that VAD report imminent, Professors Ben White and Lindy Willmot, (QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Research) have drawn attention to their previously published article in the Australian Health Review, ‘Evidence-based law-making on voluntary assisted dying’ (2020) (the article automatically downloads when you click on this link ).  A two-minute animation engagingly communicates their academic paper.  See Law Research News (QUT):

On 20 January 2020

RSA Patron Dr Rodney Syme urges amendment to Victoria’s VAD laws to allow doctors to raise the issue of Voluntary Assisted Dying with their patients: “It creates an unethical situation for doctors because they cannot give their patients full information and it should rightly be criticised.” 

Medical ethicists have said the clause in Victoria’s VAD law that prohibits doctors from initiating discussions about physician-assisted dying operates as a “gag clause” and undermines doctors’ ethical obligations to their patients.

The Western Australian law, based largely on the one in Victoria, notably does not have this gag clause.

On 11 December 2019, Western Australia has become the second state of Australia to pass into law the right for people facing end-of-life to access voluntary assisted dying. Now for Tasmania and Queensland …

On 13 October 2019, Nine News Perth published this video reporting on comments made by RSA Patron Fiona Stanley regarding the WA VAD bill currently before parliament.


On 15 July 2019, Kerry Robertson became the first person to be granted a permit under Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, and the first to use it.

Listen below as her daughters speak about her experience. (Source: ABC Radio)

19 June 2019.

Today, the long-fought-for right for people suffering intolerably towards the end of their lives to die when and with whom they choose finally becomes operative.

Eligible people can finally be prescribed medication that will gently put them to sleep and then end their life within an hour.

In this interview, RSA Patron Dr Rodney Syme describes the process with 2GB radio host Rev Bill Crews.

The Rationalist Society of Australia supports voluntary assisted dying. We believe Australians should be supported in their choice to take control of their own deaths in a way that respects them as autonomous beings. In 2017, voluntary assisted dying was legalised in Victoria, a historic moment not only for the state but the whole of Australia. The RSA is committed to seeing reforms across Australia, and will be active in upcoming state-specific campaigns to see assisted dying legalised for all Australians.


In November 2017, Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying. This is a historic win for individuals, organisations and politicians who have fought for decades for the choice to access assisted dying in Victoria. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 culminated from an incredibly comprehensive process, including the Inquiry into End of Life Choices in 2015, followed by a Ministerial Advisory Panel which delivered its final report in June 2017. It was aided in its success by the support it had from the Andrews Government.

The RSA conducted a directed campaign in support of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in Victoria, involving mobilising members, direct lobbying and contributing to the public conversation regarding the importance of such reforms. Alongside other key organisations, such as Dying With Dignity Victoria, Andrew Denton’s Go Gentle and the office of the Health Minister, the RSA engaged our members state-wide to write, call and visit their MPs in support of the Bill. In the weeks and days before the legislation came before Parliament, these efforts intensified.

We also developed relationships with key MPs to assist them with concerns they had about the reforms, and linking them to constituents whose personal stories proved incredibly powerful.

The RSA also helped shift the public conversation surrounding voluntary assisted dying, having an article published in The Age on the eve of the debate in the Legislative Assembly, and our Executive Officer appearing on ABC’s Triple J to discuss the importance of the bill to everyone, including younger Australians.


More information (Victoria)

Dying With Dignity Victoria – Dying with Dignity Victoria is a law reform and education organisation pursuing public policies and laws in the state of Victoria which enhance self-determination and dignity at the end of life. @dwdvic

  • DWDVic produced a weekly podcast in the lead up to VAD legislation being introduced into Victorian Parliament. Listen here: DWDVic Podcast

Go Gentle Australia – Go Gentle Australia has been established to help relieve the distress, helplessness and suffering experienced by Australians with untreatable or terminal illnesses, their families and carers. @gogentle_aus

Stop Victorians Suffering – Stop Victorians Suffering is a campaign of Go Gentle Australia focused solely on the Victorian legislation that would legalise voluntary assisted dying. @gogentle_aus

Victorian Parliament Inquiry into End of Life Choices – In June 2016, the Committee on Legal and Social Issues tabled its report on End of Life Choices, which included the recommendation that through legislation, the Victorian Government should introduce a legal framework providing for assisted dying (Recommendation 49).

  • The RSA made a submission to the Inquiry into End of Life Choices. Read it here.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – Final report of the Ministerial Advisory Panel – The Ministerial Advisory Panel are tasked with providing advice to government about how a compassionate and safe legislative framework for voluntary assisted dying could be implemented. They took the assisted dying framework as outlined by the Legal and Social Issues Committee as the starting point, and released their final report on 21 July 2017. It included 68 recommendations, all of which constituted different safeguards for the reform.

  • Appendix 3 considers how the proposed legislation compares to other jurisdictions around the world where VAD is already legal. It shows that if passed, Victoria’s legislation would be the most conservative and restrictive in the world. Read it here.

Seven fallacies in Victorian bishops’ arguments against assisted dying (The Guardian, 3 August 2017) – Neil Francis responds to an open letter by religious leaders, a good example of responding to misinformation.

More information (Australia-wide)

Go Gentle Australia – Go Gentle Australia has been established to help relieve the distress, helplessness and suffering experienced by Australians with untreatable or terminal illnesses, their families and carers. @gogentle_aus

Dying With Dignity NSW – Dying With Dignity NSW 

Dying With Dignity QLD – Dying With Dignity QLD

Dying With Dignity WADying With Dignity WA

SAVES – South Australia Voluntary Euthanasia Society

NTVESNorthern Territory Voluntary Euthanasia Society

Dying With Dignity Tasmania – Dying With Dignity Tasmania

Dying With Dignity ACT – Dying With Dignity ACT

All the more reason.