Message from the Minister for Health and Wellbeing (Voluntary Assisted Dying Board Annual Report 2022-23)

Following the passing of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Pathway was made available to eligible South Australians from 31 January 2023. The Pathway provides safe, accessible and compassionate voluntary assisted dying to eligible South Australians with a terminal illness choice at the end of life.

The implementation of the VAD Pathway covers the 70 safeguards included in the legislation making it one of the safest voluntary assisted dying pathways in the world. A high level of oversight has and continues to be provided by SA Health in administrating the VAD Pathway as well as the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board in their oversight role ensuring any application to access the Pathway is conducted in a considered, careful and safe manner in line with the legislation. This ensures that eligible South Australians that choose to access the Pathway maintain dignity and are supported at the end of life.

The implementation of the Act in South Australia builds on the successful implementation of voluntary assisted dying legislation in Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland and precedes implementation in New South Wales.

This report offers us an opportunity to reflect on the steps that have been taken in South Australia since the commencement of voluntary assisted dying on 31 January 2023, to ensure that the Act is implemented in a manner that safeguards both the rights of individuals seeking this option and the ethical responsibilities of the medical community.

Of critical importance has been the establishment of a voluntary assisted dying medical practitioner workforce. I would sincerely like to thank those medical practitioners who have registered and undertaken the mandatory training in order to make voluntary assisted dying an end of life option in South Australia. Your commitment to participating in this new area of practice is fundamental to the availability of and trust in our voluntary assisted dying pathway.

I also thank the members of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board for overseeing these first steps and providing this highly informative activity report for 2022-23. In addition I would like to thank the dedicated clinicians and staff of the SAVAD Care Navigator Service, SAVAD Pharmacy, Local Health Network VAD Liaisons and the Department for Health and Wellbeing for their role in establishing and facilitating the voluntary assisted dying pathway with professionalism and compassion.

Importantly, I would like to acknowledge those individuals that have made the choice to access the voluntary assisted dying pathway and extend sincere condolences to the bereaved.

Chris Picton MP

Minister for Health and Wellbeing