Voluntary Assisted Dying laws in NSW

The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Act commenced on 28 November 2023.

Dying with Dignity NSW has been lobbying for this compassionate, end-of life choice for nearly 50 years so we have an enormous sense of relief and we are proud of everyone who made this law a reality. 

The new law gives terminally ill people in NSW the ability to avoid the extreme suffering many experience at the end of their lives, despite the best available medical and palliative care.

The law is a conservative model of voluntary assisted dying, limited to NSW residents who are terminally ill and whose intolerable suffering cannot be alleviated.

Below is a brief outline of the NSW law. Visit the NSW Health website for detailed information about the regime and how to make an application.

Eligibility criteria

  • You must be an adult (18 years and older), who is an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or has been resident in Australia for at least 3 continuous years.
  • You must have been living in NSW for at least 12 months.
  • You must have at least one disease, illness or medical condition that:
    • is advanced, progressive;
    • will, on the balance of probabilities, cause their death within six months (or within 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neurone disease), and
    • is causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a way the person considers tolerable.
  • You must have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying,
  • You must be acting voluntarily,
  • You must not be acting because of pressure or duress, and
  • Your request for access to voluntary assisted dying has to be enduring.

The process

  • To apply for VAD, the dying person themselves must make the request. It cannot be made by a family member, a carer or anyone else.
  • A request cannot be made in an advance care directive because the person has to have decision-making capacity throughout the whole process.
  • They have to make three requests and one has to be in writing. There must be two eligible witnesses to the written request.
  • Assessment of criteria for access is carried out by two independent medical practitioners who have to meet minimum requirements regarding their qualifications and experience and they must have done special VAD training.
  • Those doctors will be trained in recognising the signs of pressure or duress. If they are unsure whether a patient is acting voluntarily, or whether pressure or duress could be a factor, they must refer the patient to someone who has the skills and training to make a determination. This could be a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker depending on the circumstances.
  • Once a person has been approved for VAD they can choose to take the medication themselves or to have it administered by a doctor.
  • The person must have decision-making capacity at all stages of the process.
  • The person can withdraw or pause the process at any time.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on how to apply for voluntary assisted dying, please
visit the NSW Health Voluntary Assisted Dying website here