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Information about the processes and safeguards in place to access voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) gives registered health practitioners who have a conscientious objection to voluntary assisted dying the right to refuse to do any of the following:
Any person who, in good faith, assists or facilitates a person who is requesting access or is accessing voluntary assisted dying in line with the Act is protected from criminal liability.
A health practitioner who, in good faith and without negligence, participates in voluntary assisted dying in line with the Act is not:
The Act provides protection from civil and criminal liability for certain persons who do not administer lifesaving treatment in circumstances where the patient does not request it and the person believed, on reasonable grounds, that the patient is dying after self-administering or being administered the voluntary assisted dying medication in accordance with the Act. This includes registered health practitioners and a person providing an ambulance service.
The Act contains the following offences:
These offences attract penalties. It is therefore important that anyone participating in the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pathway familiarise themselves with these offences.
A breach of the Act by a registered health practitioner may also be professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct for the purposes of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010. This is the case even if the breach is not an offence under the Act.
The Act mandates registered health practitioners or an employer of a registered health practitioner to notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as soon as possible if they reasonably believe another registered health practitioner either:
Failure of a registered health practitioner to make a mandatory report to AHPRA constitutes unprofessional conduct in line with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010.
A person may make a voluntary notification to AHPRA about any registered health practitioner they reasonably believe to be in breach of the Act.
Under the Act, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) has power to review decisions made by the Coordinating or Consulting Medical Practitioner that impact a patient’s eligibility to access voluntary assisted dying. Each of the following are SACAT reviewable decisions:
The person to whom the decision relates, a family member of the person to whom the decision relates; or any other person who the Tribunal is satisfied has a sufficient interest in the matter can apply to SACAT for review of the decision within 28 calendar days after the date the decision was made. SACAT may extend this timeframe if special circumstances exist provided that the patient will not be unreasonably disadvantaged because of the extension.
An application for SACAT review of a decision will result in each of the following processes being suspended until the review is complete:
SACAT must give notice of the application to all the below:
A Coordinating Medical Practitioner may refuse to continue to perform their role if:
In this situation the Coordinating Medical Practitioner must transfer their role.
A Consulting Medical Practitioner may refuse to continue to perform their roles if:
In this situation the Coordinating Medical Practitioner may refer the patient to another registered medical practitioner for a further consulting assessment.
A review is taken to be withdrawn if the patient who is the subject of the decision dies.