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Monday, March 4, 2024

ACT announces voluntary assisted dying taskforce

The ACT Government has announced it will establish a Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation taskforce.

ACT Chief Minister and Treasurer, Andrew Barr says the new taskforce will build on consultation undertaken with Canberrans last year to establish the best framework and model of care to meet the needs of the community.

“Establishing this taskforce is an important next step in ensuring our health system is prepared to deliver voluntary assisted dying once legislation comes into effect,” said Mr Barr.

“It’s been a long journey for the ACT to reach this point. We understand Canberrans care deeply about this issue, with strong support for a voluntary assisted dying scheme in the ACT.

“We will continue to listen to experts, stakeholders, and the broader community as we develop a voluntary assisted dying model that ensures the dignity of those eligible Canberrans who choose to access the scheme.”

The Chief Minister said the taskforce will commence early implementation planning to prepare the health system and health workforce to deliver voluntary assisted dying services once the legislation is enacted.

Drawing on expertise from across the ACT Health Directorate and Canberra Health Services, it will coordinate:

  • Care and referral pathways across the health system;
  • Establishment of care navigation and pharmacy services;
  • Clinical guidelines and regulations;
  • Workforce training and accreditation;
  • Communications and engagement with the community;
  • Establishing a new independent review board.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the taskforce will work closely with representatives from key stakeholder groups, agencies, and the broader community to develop community information and resources on voluntary assisted dying.

“We have seen from other jurisdictions around Australia that establishing robust governance arrangements is crucial in ensuring the health system is ready to deliver voluntary assisted dying services once the laws come into effect,” said Ms Stephen-Smith.

“The Voluntary Assisted Dying Taskforce draws on expertise and resources from across the public health system to ensure the ACT delivers a successful, safe and accessible model of care that meets the needs of the community and the clinicians who will be instrumental in delivering it.

“We want our healthcare workers and stakeholders to feel supported and informed as we work to uphold the dignity and preferences of eligible Canberrans who choose to engage with voluntary assisted dying, and this taskforce is the next phase of this important process.”

Community representatives will also be invited to participate to ensure voluntary assisted dying services are fit for purpose and meet community expectations.

If discussion of voluntary assisted dying raises issues for you or your family, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Griefline on 1300 845 745.

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