Under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act), eligible medical practitioners who have both registered in the Clinical Portal and completed the mandatory training are the only health practitioners able to undertake the assessments required to enable someone to access voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.

However, other health practitioners involved in the provision of end of life care may receive requests for information from patients about voluntary assisted dying.

Registered health practitioners must not initiate a discussion about voluntary assisted dying or suggest voluntary assisted dying with a patient they provide health or professional care services to. Doing so may constitute unprofessional conduct under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 which may attract disciplinary action. For more information, visit the Discussing voluntary assisted dying with patients page.

Health practitioners who are asked about voluntary assisted dying by a patient should provide any information they are able to and refer the patient to where they can find more information.

Useful resources include:

Health practitioners who have a conscientious objection to voluntary assisted dying have a right to refuse to participate in voluntary assisted dying, including providing information about voluntary assisted dying.  

Health practitioners may also be asked to assist in the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pathway in other ways, for example as a patient’s Contact Person.  

Health practitioners should care for patients accessing voluntary assisted dying in line with their professional code of conduct and duty of care, including by:  

  • providing the same standard of care and support to patients requesting voluntary assisted dying
  • supporting patients to make informed decisions about their end of life care 
  • respecting the patient’s beliefs, values, and choices about their end of life care 
  • supporting patients to access the care they need 
  • taking any steps necessary to ensure their access to care is not impeded.  

Specialist opinion provider - registered health practitioner

Registered health practitioners with appropriate skills and training are responsible for providing an opinion on matters that fit within the scope of their practice to the Coordinating or Consulting Medical Practitioner.

They may provide a specialist opinion on:

  • A patient’s decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying. 
  • Whether a patient is acting voluntarily and without coercion. 

When providing a specialist opinion, health practitioners will be asked to undertake an independent determination and provide a clinical report to the referring Coordinating or Consulting Medical Practitioner. The Coordinating or Consulting Medical Practitioner may either accept the specialist opinion or rely on their own determination.

A referral for a specialist opinion is not a referral for a consulting assessment, and can occur during both the first assessment and the consulting assessment.

Health practitioners are not required to complete voluntary assisted dying training to provide a specialist opinion.

When is a health practitioner not eligible to provide specialist opinion?

Health practitioners are not eligible to provide a specialist opinion if they meet any of the below criteria: 

  • They are a family member of the patient.
  • They know or reasonably believe they may be a beneficiary under the patient’s will.  
  • They know or reasonably believe they may otherwise benefit from the death of the patient.