COTA (WA) Understanding Voluntary Assisted Dying Guide
Council on the Ageing Western Australia [COTA (WA)] has designed this guide to be a helpful tool in planning and collating important documents and information and critically, ensuring that your executor or loved ones are able to locate them at the right time.
“In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes” is still as true today as when Benjamin Franklin uttered these now-famous words in 1789.
Unlike the world of the eighteenth century, under the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) WA legislation, Western Australians who are suffering from a terminal illness now have the right to choose death should certain safeguards and strict conditions be met.
Currently, around 90 per cent of us will live beyond 65 years of age. However, death and ageing, although inevitable, will occur differently for each one of us.
For some, death will be a peaceful experience, perhaps surrounded by family and friends. For others, death could be accompanied by suffering after a long struggle with illness that will have extracted a heavy toll not only on the deceased but also their loved ones. In other words, some experience a ‘good’ death while others may not.
The VAD process aims to promote the personal autonomy and choice of those people who are suffering at the end of their life, while ensuring there are safeguards for the broader community. To achieve this, it adopts a multi-stage assessment process with numerous safeguards and comprehensive oversight. Although there is widespread community support for legislation permitting people near the end of life to choose the circumstances of their death, the law also needs to protect those who may be vulnerable to abuse.
It should be emphasised that this guide is not aimed at promoting or advocating for Voluntary Assisted Dying. It is presented to highlight what is involved in accessing VAD under current Western Australian legislation. We have presented (in an easy to understand language) what can appear to be complex information which is readily and publicly available in an accessible and helpful document for the benefit of all people who may be contemplating this kind of assistance.