Voluntary Assisted Dying in the ACT

Funeral casket with flowers in Canberra representing voluntary assisted dying.

On 5 June 2024, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed Voluntary Assisted Dying laws. These new laws will commence on 3 November 2025.

ACT is the first Territory to pass the new law—as it is already currently legal in all Australian States.

What is Voluntary Assisted Dying?

Voluntary Assisted Dying allows people who are suffering and dying access to help to end their lives.

Under the new law, a person who accesses the service does not die from suicide. Legally, they will have died from their medical condition.

Who will be able to access Voluntary Assisted Dying in the ACT?

Only adults can access Voluntary Assisted Dying. They must also have lived in the ACT for the previous 12 months (unless they have an exemption).

The person must have a medical condition which is advanced, progressive, and expected to cause death, and which is causing intolerable suffering.

The person must also personally be able to understand the decision to end their life and make the decision voluntarily and without coercion. An attorney, or a guardian, cannot consent to participation in Voluntary Assisted Dying on their behalf.

How will a person be able to access Voluntary Assisted Dying?

A person wishing to access Voluntary Assisted Dying can make three separate requests to their health practitioner. The new law sets out which health practitioners can accept these requests.

  1. The person can make a First Request verbally or in writing. If they do, an assessment needs to occur to confirm whether the person is eligible.
  2. If accepted, the person can then make a Second Request in writing, before two witnesses. This is to confirm that the request is voluntary and made without coercion. The witnesses must meet certain legal requirements.
  3. If accepted, the person can then make a Final Request verbally or in writing. After the Final Request, a Final Assessment occurs.

How can a person end their life?

After a Final Assessment, the person can decide whether they will self-administer a substance which will end their life, or whether they will ask a health practitioner to do so.

Once the person has made this decision, the person’s health practitioner may prescribe the person substances which will allow them to end their life.

Who oversees the process?

The new law will create a board that will oversee the process and can report any issues to appropriate authorities.

The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) also has the power to review decisions under the new law. This includes decisions to accept or refuse a person’s request to access Voluntary Assisted Dying.

Conscientious Objectors

The new law recognises that some health practitioners may be ethically opposed to Voluntary Assisted Dying.

If a health practitioner does not wish to assist a patient to end their life, they can refuse to participate. However, they will then need to refer the patient to an approved service to help them find someone who is able to assist them.

This article was written on 6 June 2024, and may not be current as at the time you read it. You can access up to date information directly from the ACT Government, or subscribe for updates, by clicking this link.

Mitchell Evelyn is a Senior Associate with Elringtons Lawyers. Mitchell’s practice includes Wills and Estates, Property Law, and Commercial Law. You can contact Mitchell using our contact form, by telephone at (02) 6206 1300, or by email at

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