RACGP aged care clinical guide (Silver Book)

Silver Book - Part C

Voluntary assisted dying in aged care

Last revised: 03 Aug 2023

Voluntary assisted dying (VAD) refers to the assistance provided to a person by a health practitioner to end their life.1 This includes:

  • ‘self-administration’, where the person takes the VAD medication themselves (this is sometimes called physician-assisted suicide or dying)
  • ‘practitioner administration’, where the person is given the medication by a doctor (or, in some Australian states, a nurse practitioner or registered nurse; this is sometimes called voluntary euthanasia).2

VAD laws have been passed in all Australian states, with VAD commencing operation in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. A summary of these laws is provided in Table 1. VAD laws will commence in NSW in late November 2023.3 VAD remains illegal in NSW until state laws commence.

The Restoring Territory Rights Act 2022 was passed in 2022 and allows the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to pass VAD laws. VAD remains illegal until any laws are passed in the territories.

Table 1. Summary of voluntary assisted dying legislation in Australia



Commencement of VAD laws


Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022 No 17

Due to commence 28 November 2023


Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021

Commenced 1 January 2023


Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021

Commenced 31 January 2023


End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Act 2021

Commenced 23 October 2022


Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017

Commenced 19 June 2019


Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019

Commenced 1 July 2021


To access VAD, each state requires that a person undergoes a request and assessment process. Because of the differences between states, it is important to check the available guidelines for your state prior to engaging in any VAD discussion. Eligibility for VAD generally involves a person:

  • making at least three requests for VAD
  • being assessed as eligible by at least two independent medical practitioners.

ELDAC provides a useful diagram outlining the process of a basic VAD request and associated administration, available here.

There are restrictions on when VAD can be discussed, and which health professionals can have these discussions. There are also restrictions on providing information about VAD to people in RACFs. 

Learn more about the law on discussing VAD, and providing VAD information in your state at End of Life Law in Australia.

Institutions such as RACFs may decide whether to provide VAD, and what level of support they offer to residents seeking VAD. Patient VAD requests should be included in RACF admission documents. The laws differ in each state:

It is important, wherever possible, to have an open discussion with the patient and their family about VAD.

It is important that health professionals follow the procedures of VAD thoroughly to ensure they do not have any legal liability. If a health professional has any concerns, they should contact their medical defence organisation.

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