Department of Health

About voluntary assisted dying

Overview of eligibility, supports and safeguards.

Voluntary assisted dying explained

Voluntary assisted dying means a person in the late stages of advanced disease can take a substance prescribed by a doctor that will bring about their death at a time they choose.

Only people who meet all the conditions and follow the process can access the voluntary assisted dying substance. A person's decision to ask for voluntary assisted dying must be:

  • voluntary (the person's own decision)
  • enduring (the person makes three separate requests for voluntary assisted dying during the process)
  • fully informed (the person is well-informed about their disease, and their treatment and palliative care options).

Conditions for accessing voluntary assisted dying

People can ask for voluntary assisted dying if they meet all the following conditions:

  1. They must have an advanced disease that will cause their death and that is:
    • likely to cause their death within six months (or within 12 months for neurodegenerative diseases like motor neurone disease)
    • causing the person suffering that is unacceptable to them.
  2. They must have the ability to make and communicate a decision about voluntary assisted dying throughout the formal request process.
  3. They must also:
    • be an adult 18 years or over
    • have been living in Victoria for at least 12 months
    • be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Find more information about who can access voluntary assisted dying and the process, see voluntary assisted dyingExternal Link on the Better Health Channel website.

Support accessing voluntary assisted dying

The Statewide Care Navigator Service provides information and answers questions about voluntary assisted dying in Victoria.

Care navigators are nurses and allied health professionals who can support a person, their carers, family and friends.

For more information, see Statewide Care Navigator Service

Support services

Some people find it upsetting to think about their, or a loved one’s death and end of life care. If reading this information has raised issues of grief, stress or personal crisis, you may have a GP or other health practitioner who can discuss this with you.

The following services may also provide assistance:

There are many other services available to provide counselling support listed on the Beyond Blue websiteExternal Link .

Medical practitioners and health practitioners

Medical practitioners with appropriate experience and who have completed voluntary assisted dying training can help a person through the process. Access to voluntary assisted dying requires two doctors to agree that the person is eligible. One of the doctors will write a prescription for the substance once the permit has been approved.

Other medical practitioners, health practitioners (such as nurses) and residential aged care staff can give information and support while a person explores their eligibility for voluntary assisted dying.

If a person's usual doctor cannot assist, they may refer the patient to another doctor. Anyone in Victoria can contact the Statewide Care Navigator Service for assistance with finding an appropriate doctor with the required training.

The law protects medical practitioners and other health practitioners, such as nurses and pharmacists, who do not want to participate in voluntary assisted dying because they have a conscientious objection. This means they cannot be forced to:

  • provide information or support about voluntary assisted dying
  • assess a person for voluntary assisted dying
  • supply or give the substance used for voluntary assisted dying.

For more information, see Medical practitioner roles in voluntary assisted dying

Health services

Some health services may not be able to provide voluntary assisted dying, for example, if they do not have any medical practitioners who have completed the required training.

Even if a health service does not provide voluntary assisted dying, a person can still ask its medical or health practitioners where they can get information about voluntary assisted dying and request they refer them to a doctor or service that can assist them.

For more information, see voluntary assisted dying for health and aged care services.


There are strong safeguards to make sure a person is making their own decision to seek voluntary assisted dying, and that others are not pressuring them.

Only the person deciding to seek voluntary assisted dying can ask for it. Their carer, family, friend or support person cannot ask for them.

It is against the law for a medical or other health practitioner to suggest voluntary assisted dying as an end of life option to one of their patients. A medical practitioner cannot talk about voluntary assisted dying unless a person asks them about it first.

As part of the process, 2 doctors must decide the person is well-informed about their disease, treatment and palliative care options and can make their own decision about voluntary assisted dying. Both medical practitioners must assess that no-one is forcing or influencing the person to request it. Both medical practitioners must have completed training in assessing a person for voluntary assisted dying.

Medical practitioners must also remind the person they do not have to go ahead if they change their mind at any time throughout the process.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board (VAD Board)External Link oversees voluntary assisted dying activity. The VAD Board reviews every case of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria to ensure it complies with the law. It can make suggestions for changes or improvements in the law and supporting processes to government and the Department of Health.

Other organisations, such as Victoria Police, the Coroner, and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, ensure that laws and professional standards are observed.

More information

For detailed information for people considering voluntary assisted dying, including the process and support available, see Voluntary assisted dying – Information for people considering voluntary assisted dying.

Reviewed 14 May 2024


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