After 50 years of advocacy and polls consistently showing up to 80% support, voluntary assisted dying (VAD) has finally become law in New South Wales.
Advocates told Green Left they are “balancing excitement, relief and exhaustion” as the NSW VAD Bill passed the NSW Upper House after a marathon 10-hour debate.
The final vote was passed 23 to 15 and was immediately ratified by the Legislative Assembly on the morning of May 19. The majority of the amendments put up were voted down during the debate, including attempts to allow aged care and residential facilities to block residents from accessing VAD in their facilities.
President of Dying With Dignity (DWD) NSW Penny Hackett said in an email to supporters: “DWD NSW has been pursuing this reform for over 50 years and we have now achieved our aim of safe and compassionate laws which allow dying people a choice in their final days.”
Hackett said DWD NSW will soon provide a comprehensive update of the final outcomes, thanking MPs, advocates and supporters for their support throughout the prolonged campaign.
“We could not have done this without the support of the 28 co-sponsors of the Bill and those MPs from across the political divide who voted to support this Bill,” Hackett said.
“Collaboration and bi-partisanship have become scarce commodities in our democracy. Perhaps the success of this Bill will prompt more of our elected representatives to put aside their differences and work constructively for the benefit of the community.”
Hackett said without the sustained groundswell of community support and individuals in frontline advocacy for VAD, it may never have happened.
“This reform could not have been achieved without our tens of thousands of supporters across the state” she said.
Advocates say they will now turn their attention to overturning the anomaly that allows federal ministers to overturn Territory rights to prevent Territories from democratically legislating for voluntary assisted dying.
Now that VAD has been passed, people in NSW will be able to apply for voluntary assisted dying within 18 months.