The current law in Australia

What is legal in Australia now?

  • Both suicide and attempted suicide.
  • Refusing unwanted, painful and futile medical treatment leading to death from the illness.
  • Refusing food and drink leading to death from starvation and dehydration.
  • Being administered large doses of pain-relieving drugs, even though this may hasten death.  This is not against the law if the primary intention of the doctor is to relieve pain.
  • Being put into a permanent state of unconsciousness leading to death – this is often called ‘continuous palliative sedation’.

What is illegal in Australia now?

  • Voluntary assisted dying.
  • Voluntary euthanasia.

This means it is a crime for any person, medically qualified or not, to aid or abet another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide.

See our Terminology page for definitions.

Please see our Advance Care Planning page for the current Australian law regarding communicating to your doctor the medical treatment that you would like to have, or would not like to have, especially if you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

The Australian Centre for Health Law at the Queensland University of Technology has established an excellent website which explains the legal issues around end-of-life care and decision-making. We encourage you to visit this site for reliable and up-to-date information.  Click for their website