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Information about the responsibilities of a VAD contact person.
This help may be in ways that you are already familiar with, for example providing them with emotional support as they undergo medical treatment or going with them to attend appointments.
You may also be asked to play a formal role that carries responsibilities under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act). It is important that you understand what these roles are, whether you meet the eligibility requirements, and whether you are emotionally and physically able to support someone in their choice.
The information on this page can help you learn about supporting someone who is considering accessing voluntary assisted dying.
The South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service (SAVAD-CNS) can provide you with support and general information about end of life care and voluntary assisted dying, as well as connect you with bereavement support resources and services.
SA Health has a range of online resources and services to support people experiencing grief and loss through the SA Health Bereavement Portal. This resource lists a selection of online bereavement resources, and links to face-to-face services available to all South Australians.
The following helplines and services provide personal crisis support 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
The Act requires a person requesting access to voluntary assisted dying does so freely and without coercion. Another person, for example a family member, friend or carer, can support someone throughout the process, however they cannot request access on that person’s behalf.
A family member, friend or carer cannot prevent a person from accessing voluntary assisted dying.
You may be asked by a person accessing voluntary assisted dying to be a:
Two witnesses are required to be present to witness the signing of the written declaration with the Coordinating Medical Practitioner.
In signing the written declaration, the two witnesses are independently certifying that the below statements are true:
Witnessing a written declaration does not require you to have prior knowledge of the person accessing voluntary assisted dying or specialist knowledge but is based on your observation of the person making the declaration at the time of signing.
You are not eligible to act as a witness to a written declaration if:
No more than one witness may be a family member of the person making the written declaration.
If a person making a declaration does not know someone eligible to be a witness, it may be appropriate for an administrative health service staff member or care navigator to be their witness, as long as they also meet the criteria.
If the person accessing voluntary assisted dying is unable to sign the written declaration, another person may sign the form on their behalf.
A person signing the written declaration on behalf of the person accessing voluntary assisted dying must:
After a person makes a final request for voluntary assisted dying, they must appoint someone to be their Contact Person.
The Contact Person has responsibilities under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 to:
The Contact Person must be willing and able to return the voluntary assisted dying medication kit to the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service in any of the below circumstances:
If the Contact Person doesn’t return any unused or remaining voluntary assisted dying substance to the SA Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service within 15 days after the person dies, they could be charged with a crime. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 requires a Contact Person to:
The Contact Person may be:
If you need help finding someone to be your Contact Person, you can contact the Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service. If you are an inpatient at a public hospital, you can also ask to contact Voluntary Assisted Dying Liaisons for the relevant hospital who can assist you.
The person making a final request for voluntary assisted dying asks their Coordinating Medical Practitioner to download a Contact Person Appointment Form from the VAD Clinical Portal.
The person and their Contact Person must complete and sign the Contact Person Appointment Form in the presence of another person aged 18 years or older.
If the person is unable to sign the Contact Person Appointment Form, another person may sign the form on their behalf.
Another person signing the declaration on the person’s behalf must:
If the person is supported by an interpreter, the interpreter must also sign the form to certify that they provided a true and correct translation of any material.
In addition to the Contact Person requirements listed in the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021, the person should consider if their chosen Contact Person is:
A person may change their Contact Person at any time, including at the request of the Contact Person.
If the Contact Person cannot continue with their role, a new Contact Person must be appointed as soon as possible.
When the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service supplies the voluntary assisted dying medication to the person, a pharmacist will:
After the person’s death, the Contact Person should contact the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pharmacy Service to arrange return of the voluntary assisted dying medication.
If required, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board Secretariat will contact the Contact Person to provide further information about returning the medication and support services available to them.
The Contact Person can also contact the Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigator Service for advice on grief and bereavement support.
As witness you will need to be present when the Coordinating Medical Practitioner administers the voluntary assisted dying medication to a person who is the subject of a Practitioner Administration Permit.
The person who is the subject of the permit must make a personal administration request to their Coordinating Medical Practitioner in your presence. This request can be verbal, by gesture, or by other means of communication.
As witness you must be present for both the administration request and the administration of the medication by the Coordinating Medical Practitioner.
To be eligible to act as witness you will need to be:
Acting independently of the Coordinating Medical Practitioner means that you must not:
Before the Coordinating Medical Practitioner administers the medication, you must be satisfied of each of the following:
You and the Coordinating Medical Practitioner must each complete and sign a Practitioner Administration Form, as required by the Act.